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G8Way Little Tokyo

2624 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Steve2726
Remember this post which was originally posted in September 2004 from
Mammoth Project Planned for Little Tokyo

Grand Avenue Developer Proposes $240 Million, 850-Unit Deal

by Jason Mandell

The firm selected to head the redevelopment of Grand Avenue is now also working on a deal to create a $240 million mixed-use project that would transform a chunk of Little Tokyo. The development could provide a major economic boost to the quiet community, although some worry that it could take away vital parking spaces.

The Related Companies hopes to build two 20-story apartment towers and 50,000 square feet of retail on this parking lot at Second and Los Angeles streets.
The Related Companies of California last week announced preliminary plans for an 850-unit, market-rate complex featuring a mix of condos and apartments, as well as 50,000 square feet of retail. The development, which would include two roughly 20-story towers, would rise on a parking lot south of Second Street between Los Angeles and San Pedro streets. The property is known as Block Eight.

Related, which three months ago broke ground on a 128-unit housing project just one block east at Second and Central, has yet to purchase the six-acre site. Bill Witte, a principal at the company, said they are under contract to buy one of the three plots that make up the property from Japanese firm Toda Company. Witte said Related is in final negotiations to purchase the other two plots. One is owned by longtime Little Tokyo businessman Noritoshi Kanai and the other by Downtown parking lot king Joe Lumer.

Witte expects to take ownership of the entire parcel in about 10 months. He said construction would start in late 2005, and would finish in 2007.

Witte said the large size of the property means the firm will take a "comprehensive planning" approach. He said the site is a crucial piece of Little Tokyo.

"It is widely viewed as the center of the community, certainly geographically," said Witte. "It has a lot of significance in that regard."

Witte and other Related officials unveiled their proposal last Monday at a meeting of the city's Little Tokyo Community Development Advisory Committee. Witte said that while planning is still in the very early stages, he wants to ensure that the project will meet the neighborhood's needs. He said the response from the meeting was encouraging.

"I got a clear signal that we are headed in the right direction," said Witte.

'Mixed Blessing'

Little Tokyo community leaders cautioned that while they welcome new housing and the potential for increased economic vitality, the project could have negative affects.

"It's sort of a mixed blessing," said Howard Nishimura, an accountant in Little Tokyo for 37 years.

Nishimura was one of numerous community members who worried that the project would rob the area of parking spots. Indeed, the number of spaces in Little Tokyo has dropped drastically in the last few years as developers have been buying parking lots and converting them into housing.

Related's proposal calls for 1,700 spaces for residents of the project, which amounts to two spots for each unit. Witte said another 600 spots would be built for the public. The lot where the project would rise contains 1,000 spaces.

Bill Watanabe, executive director of the nonprofit Little Tokyo Service Center, said the developers should be required to build 1,000 spots for the public, rather than the 600 Related is proposing.

Witte countered that the existing lot is not filled to capacity, and many of the spots are being used by temporary construction workers. He added that he was advised by Lumer, whose company manages the lot, that 600 spots would be more than enough. Still, he said the number of parking spaces is not set in stone. "I don't consider this a done deal," said Witte.

Another major concern among Little Tokyo community members is the project's lack of affordable housing. Watanabe said that while the area has a sizeable amount of low-income projects, it could still benefit from more affordable units.

"I think if you look at the waiting lists of people wanting to get into the existing affordable housing projects, you quickly realize the need is still there," said Watanabe.

Witte, whose firm is including 24 affordable units in its project at Second and Central, said that while plans could change, he does not intend to develop low-income units at the Block Eight project.

"I'm not ruling it out, but I'm not programming it in," said Witte.

Little Tokyo community members also said they are wary of changing the face of the neighborhood, though many believe a new crop of customers will provide an economic boost.

"These people will be bringing in disposable incomes. But bringing people into a historic ethnic neighborhood is going to change it somewhat," said Watanabe "We just hope we don't lose anything."

The Little Tokyo Community Council on Tuesday, Sept. 28 will host a public meeting with Related officials at the Japanese American National Museum to discuss the project.
I found some renderings from Thomas P. Cox Architects… its being called G8Way Little Tokyo. It shows the two towers (East and West at 20 stories each):

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Interesting looking project and i like the fact that they included all that landscaping. we need to have our streets be more walkable and enjoyable for pedestrians and they are headed in the right direction.
Great Post. I imagine the number 8 in "G8Way" is added intentionally due to the good luck significance of the number 8 in certain Asian cultures.
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