Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) is in the midst of a building boom. With residential, commercial, retail, office space underway, developers are meeting strong demand for an urban live-work-play lifestyle in the city.
At the end of 2018, there were almost 3 million square feet of office space under construction in downtown Los Angeles, according to the Downtown Center Business Improvement District’s Q4 2018 Market Report, along with 1.1 million square feet of retail and 1,271 hotel rooms. These numbers pale in comparison to proposed projects, which would add almost 9,500 more hotel rooms, 2.6 million square feet of additional retail and another 3.3 million square feet of office space.
The project that will deliver the most new residential space to DTLA this year is the Omni Group’s Hope + Flower development. The dual towers, one 31 stories and another 40 stories, will offer 730 luxury rental units with approximately 7,800 square feet of commercial space. Another major residential project that is scheduled for completion in 2019 is Macfarlane Partners’ Park Fifth project, which Suffolk Construction is building. When the entire project is built out, it will offer 660 apartments.
But the residential trend has definitely favored market-rate construction, leaving DTLA short on affordable living space. At the end of 2018, affordable units made up not quite 28% of total downtown housing stock. That share will shrink to about 24% when all the units under construction now are complete and possibly to less than 17% if there are no new affordable projects and everything in the planning pipeline comes to fruition.
The office and retail markets are also hot, and Apple’s announcement that it will open a flagship store and event space in the historic Tower Theatre promises to spur even more commercial development in DTLA. Other companies are also laying claim to downtown space, including engineering firm Arup, which has taken 66,000 square feet in the 1,100-foot-tall Wilshire Grand Center. The supertall tower opened in 2017 and is the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.
The big story, however, surrounds the $1 billion mixed-use developments that are consolidating all of these building types into megacomplexes in DTLA. Public outcry against these high-density projects reached a fever pitch back in March 2017 when Los Angeles voters had the chance to put a moratorium on the zoning changes that make these developments possible. That measure failed.