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Boyle Heights Sears reuse project takes a step forward

sears

BOYLE HEIGHTS — A Planning Department official has approved a proposal to convert a portion of the landmark Sears store and warehouse at Soto Street and Olympic Boulevard into more than 1,000 residential units and build a new parking garage with about 1,500 spaces.

The project, which would include space for the existing Sears store, has touched off concerns about the gentrification of Boyle Heights as well as bringing additional traffic in the area. The nearly 13-acre Sears site is only a short walk from where another developer is seeking to build more than 4,000 apartments and condos on the site of the Wyvernwood apartments.

Last week, Associate Zoning Administrator Charles J. Rausch, Jr. issued his decision to approve the adaptive reuse and conversion of the 10-story building, which was purchased two years ago by Los Angeles developer Izek Shomof for $29 million. The approval and conditions, which are subject to appeal and further city review, spelled out how the building’s 1,840,000 square feet would be used:

  • 1,030 live/work units, with some of the units limited to artists, artisans and designers
  • 250,000 square-feet for the Sears store
  • 250,000 square-feet for creative office space
  •  98,853 square-feet for ground-floor retail in addition to the Sears store

The decision allows Shomof’s group to take advantage of several city incentives in connection with building density and parking but also imposed numerous conditions, including the operation of a  shuttle service to and from the nearby Gold Line Station, street widening and traffic signal improvements. The owners must also preserve the building’s historic features and not endanger its city and national historic landmark status.

The developer as well as members of the public can appeal the decision.

The office of Councilman José Huizar, who represents Boyle Heights, is reviewing the findings, said spokesman Rick Coca.  “We’ll wait to hear community and stakeholder feedback … before we weigh in.”

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11 comments

  1. “1,030 live/work units, with some of the units limited to artists, artisans and designers”

    “units limited to artists, artisans and designers”

    “artists, artisans and designers”

    OMGentrification.

  2. He paid $16 a sq foot? What a deal, it’s unheard of.

  3. Damn, at this rate of hipster sprawl Vernon will be gentrified next, factories with red front doors, gray facades and mid century reception areas.

  4. Finally! That whole area needs a good clean up! If you like it, I got a pile of poop you can stare at.

  5. I’m going to guess that Sears is on the city’s discrete list of older non-ductile concrete buildings.

    Being on the list doesn’t mean that the building will fall on you in an earthquake but it does make it more likely that it will suffer major damage that will require it to be red-tagged after.

    • I also suspect that it is a nonreinforced building. However, since the building is going to change occupancy and be used for dwelling, the building will have to be retrofitted. Which will most likely mean adding internal structural steel reinforcement.

      • It’s currently underreenforced. (They did put steel in concrete back then)

        You’re right. It will be retrofitted so that it won’t collapse in a major earthquake. That doesn’t mean it will perform like a new building which is designed to be reused after a major earthquake.

        As a fan of historic architecture, I applaud the reuse of the building. I simply feel that Angelenos have a poor grasp of how well (or poorly) many of our buildings are going to perform in a major earthquake.

  6. The plans sound great. The building is iconic and will appeal to many of the creative or non-creative people working in Los Angeles. With spectacular views of downtown LA it will be a huge boost to this part of LA. Plus with Pershing Square being revamped, the LA River project and the LA Historic State Park getting an extra $5,000,000 our city will really be moving forward as it should.

  7. Get it done already, this sounds great!

  8. How the hell is street widening a community benefit? Smh. This is a transit dependent community, treat it as such. That means PEDESTRIAN amenities, even bicyclist amenities before a street widening.

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