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Massive Development Proposed For Arts District Includes The Neighborhood's First Skyscrapers

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The landscape of the Arts District, one of them most rapidly changing neighborhoods in Los Angeles, is poised for yet another wave of transformation, as an Orange County-based developer has proposed a 15-acre mixed-use complex at 6th and Alameda that will include twin towers reaching 58-stories apiece—making them the first skyscrapers to be built in the neighborhood.The L.A. Times reports that the proposal for the development, known as "6AM," from Irvine development firm SunCal includes:

1,736 residences, two hotels, shops and creative offices and a school on a lot now the site of two warehouses. About 430 of the residences would be condos, the rest apartments. There would also be 23,000 square feet of "art opportunity space" and two "major urban parks."

L.A. Downtown News did the math, reporting that this works out to "1.4 million square feet of apartments and 674,000 square feet of condominiums." They also reported that the project will cost roughly $2 billion. Wowza.

The designs come from Basel, Switzerland-based architects Herzog & de Meuron (known for Beijing's "Bird's Nest" stadium) whose renderings show what the towers ("needles" as they describe them) would look like rising out of the Arts District, as well as a series of low-rise sections that are set to include spaces for retail, offices, restaurants, and other "creative" endeavors.

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The Times' architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne wrote that the project is, "thoughtful in its response to its site — and more broadly in the way it adds to the conversation in Los Angeles about the role of vertical architecture." He also added that the architectural design itself "would be unlike anything recently completed in Los Angeles — muscular, intricate and porous all at once."]

But Hawthorne is also skeptical about how this development could be executed, writing:

A bigger question is whether this sort of megablock development, so much more intensely built up than the buildings around it, will feel less like an extension of the neighborhood than a contrived stage set for sophisticated urban life, a high-design Swiss spin on a Rick Caruso outdoor mall.

Arts District resident Mike Parillo told the Times that while the idea of 60-story towers in the neighborhood "seems out of place," he also noted that because of the city's housing crisis, the development could indeed be an asset, saying, "we have an incredible opportunity for density."

But whether that opportunity can be realized has yet to be determined. On Friday, SunCal's chief executive and architect Pierre de Meuron informally presented 6AM to city officials, but formal plans have yet to be submitted to the city. The Times notes that if that terrible Neighborhood Integrity Initiative ballot measure passes, the ability to build 6AM as densely as planned would be severely hindered.

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L.A. Downtown News writes that the project is expected to be formally submitted to the Department of City Planning this week, but a finalized design—which would include securing entitlements and assessing community feedback—could take two years.