A Downtown for Playa Vista (FINALLY)

According to a Los Angeles Times report by Roger Vincent and Martha Groves published last week, Playa Vista builders were finally given the green light on a $260-million shopping shopping and apartment complex after facing legal roadblocks.

Legal troubles have kept L.A.’s newest coastal community from receiving a downtown area for more than a decade.  The 3,200 residences and 2,000,000 square feet of offices have gone without a city center.  That will soon be changing.

Fresh from their court victories, “Delopers have unveiled the design of a long-anticipated shopping and apartment complex they will begin building in June as the key element of the second and final phase of Playa Vista.”

Building materials similar to those used on well-known Los Angeles shopping streets such as Abbot Kinney Boulevard and Melrose Avenue will be incorporated, and full-grown native California trees will be brought in to add a sense of permanence.

The project, called Runway at Playa Vista, will be the become the commercial and social heart of the community.

“Runway will be next to Jefferson Boulevard and house a premium grocery store, 10-screen movie theater, ‘chef-driven’ restaurants and shops. Apartments and office spaces will rise above ground-floor retail shops and top out at four stories. The complex — about the size of four city blocks — will be mostly completed in about two years, but it is intended to look as if it evolved more slowly over time. Building materials similar to those used on well-known Los Angeles shopping streets such as Abbot Kinney Boulevard and Melrose Avenue will be incorporated, and full-grown native California trees will be brought in to add a sense of permanence.”

This rendering shows the location of the planned $260-million Runway at Playa Vista, which is intended to be the commercial and social center of the community being built on land once controlled by aviation mogul Howard Hughes south of Marina del Rey.

Designed by L.A. firm Johnson Fain, there will be canopies marking entry points, as well as small gathering areas marked by fountains and fire pits throughout the complex.

According to the Times, Lincoln Property Co., which is developing Runway, has already erected office buildings there and will be buying the 14-acre Runway site from Playa Capital, the master developer of Playa Vista.  The center will serve as a meeting place for residents as well as the nearby “burgeoning creative office district.”The complex -- about the size of four city blocks -- will be mostly completed in about two years, but it is intended to look as if it evolved more slowly over time. Playa Vista already has more than 3,200 residences and 2 million square feet of offices but lacks a commercial and social town center, said Patti Sinclair, co-president of Playa Capital, the master developer of Playa Vista.

TMZ, Facebook, Toms shoesYouTube, Fox Interactive Media and ad agency Deutsch are all among the current or expected office tenants in Playa Vista.

Patti Sinclair, co-president of Playa Capital, tells us that the overall Phase 2 project will cover 111 acres, and include additional housing, office and other features, while construction is slated to last about 4 years. At the end of that, Playa Vista will span 460 acres, which is actually less than half of the original proposal for the city, due in large part to environmentalist opposition.

Since Playa Vista’s beginning, their have been questions and concerns about its future. In 2003, “the state approved $140 million to buy nearly 200 acres of the property west of Lincoln Boulevard to be restored and preserved as the Ballona Wetlands. Playa Vista agreed to donate or give up its right to develop an additional 415 acres.”

One of the project’s biggest and most successful opponents from the beginning, Rex Frankel, kept any work on Phase 2 from getting under way during the eight years he spent successfully challenging the validity of the initial environmental impact report.  However,  “Last month, the California Supreme Court declined to take his case over the second and final phase.”

Runway at Playa Vista will house a premium grocery store, 10-screen movie theater, "chef-driven" restaurants and shops. Apartments and office spaces will rise above ground-floor retail shops and top out at four stories.

“The overall Phase 2 project, known as the Village at Playa Vista, is expected to contain 2,600 residential units plus 200 senior assisted living units, 50,000 square feet of office space, 200,000 square feet of retail, 40,000 square feet of community-serving amenities (including a community center to supplement the one in Phase 1). It will also have 11.5 acres of parks and 12 acres of open space in the riparian corridor and the bluff habitat area.”

Ten years after the first Playa Vista residents arrived in 2002, locals eagerly await the many retail, entertainment and dining amenities that Phase 2 will bring to the community.

Read “Playa Vista finally gets a downtown” by Roger Vincent and Martha Groves on the L.A. Times website. 

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