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LA Downtown News: “A Developer’s 3-Part South Park Housing Splash”

Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 5:00 am

By Eddie Kim

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – Residential development is booming across Downtown Los Angeles, but there’s nowhere quite like the stretch of Olympic Boulevard between Grand Avenue and Hill Street, where about 1,000 units, divided between four complexes, have been under construction.

Now, the first batch of apartments has arrived, thanks to Houston-based developer Hanover Company. Simply titled Hanover South Park, the building at 939 S. Hill St. brings 284 apartments to a formerly quiet corner. Two additional projects from the company are scheduled to open early next year.

The seven-story structure has a clean exterior design from architecture firm TCA, and melds simply painted stucco, warm stone surfaces and flashes of metallic paneling. Steel-framed glass balconies poke out over the street. Landscaping and fresh sidewalks line the streetscape. 

For the developer, the project is a second foray into the South Park residential scene, following the 26-story 717 Olympic apartment tower that opened in 2008. Its success, even in the midst of the recession, motivated Hanover and investment partner Windsor Communities, which owns and manages another South Park building, Renaissance Tower, to further invest in the neighborhood.

“We’ve been believers in Downtown and South Park in particular for over 10 years now,” said Hanover development partner Ryan Hamilton. “We like that it’s really a residential neighborhood, coupled with the fact that there is an active business improvement district to help promote the area and keep it clean and safe.”

Hanover South Park features studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments, with floor plans ranging from 500 to 1,260 square feet. There are also three one-bedroom live/work lofts, all about 1,000 square feet. Rents run from $2,500 to nearly $4,000. The building is roughly 17% leased at this point, said property manager Trea Chafe.

All apartments are trimmed in materials that have a premium look and feel. Units feature sleek black-brown cabinetry and stone backsplashes in the kitchen, but tenants can choose from a trio of color schemes for the granite countertops and wood laminate floors. Every bedroom can hold a king-sized bed, and bathrooms are trimmed with stone countertops and large porcelain tiles, both on the floor and in the showers.

Ten-foot-high ceilings, standard in most units, and large windows give the apartments an airy feel. About half the residences have a full walk-out balcony, while the other half hold smaller “Juliet” balconies with sliding doors that open the living space to the outside.

The main amenity is a courtyard on the west side of the building. It features a small pool and resort-style touches, including massive plush lounge chairs. Attached to the pool area are a 24-hour fitness center and a clubroom with a kitchen, pool table and TV lounge. Up on the sixth floor sit two outdoor decks that provide views of the Financial District skyline and the neighborhood to the south.

“The location is a little bit outside the peak hustle and bustle in Downtown, but it still feels like it’s close to all the action,” Chafe said.

The project also has 12,400 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. No leases have been signed yet, but Hamilton said the company is looking for shops and restaurants that will appeal to the diverse contingent of visitors and residents in Downtown.

The project offers 423 parking stalls, including 55 for visitors.

Bullish on South Park

While 284 new units sounds like a big addition, it is little league compared to what is in the pipeline. Not surprisingly, one of the companies most bullish on the neighborhood is Hanover.

A block to the west is Hanover Grand Avenue, an under-construction 274-apartment complex that is slated to open next January. Literally next door to Hanover South Park is the company’s Hanover Olympic, which will bring 263 apartments when it opens around March 2016.

Hamilton is confident that the company will be able to fill the more than 800 apartments, even at rents that average more than $3 a square foot.

“It’s a very walkable area with easy access to transit, which makes it very appealing,” Hamilton said. “We’ve seen a lot of demand here in the past, and we’re seeing it in the one we’ve just opened. People want to live an urban lifestyle and live where they work.”

Hanover isn’t alone in banking on the neighborhood, which is a short walk to the office towers of the Financial District. A seven-story, 201-apartment project from developer Lennar Multifamily, at the southwest corner of Olympic Boulevard and Olive Street, is scheduled to open by September 2016. That project features a sleek, metallic exterior design from architecture firm KTGY.

Farther south, developer Mack Urban is building a pair of mid-rise apartment structures on a site bordered by Pico Boulevard and Olive and Hill streets, and is planning two more buildings on a nearby parcel along 12th Street. San Francisco-based Trumark Urban, meanwhile, just broke ground on a 25-story, 151-condominium tower at 1050 S. Grand Ave.

The construction rush is great news for Jessica Lall, executive director of the South Park Business Improvement District, which conducts privately funded cleaning and safety campaigns in the community and also handles some neighborhood improvement projects. Lall is optimistic about the future, and said Hanover has been receptive to the BID’s vision for the area.

“The developer is setting a good example for others,” Lall said. “We’re continuing to be in conversation with them about different issues, but they’re interested in learning more about our public art projects and working with us on overall retail strategies and streetscape improvements.”

The arrival of more residents also stands to be a boon for businesses in the area, including The Stocking Frame, a restaurant immediately north of Hanover South Park on Hill Street. Owner Jerry Aschoff is relieved that construction, which blocked off a long stretch of the sidewalk for more than a year, is finally over. Even better is that he’ll have a whole new customer base to court.

“With the street being redone and open, it’s been great exposure for us,” Aschoff said. “People are walking in who never knew we existed. We’ve got parking on the street now and I’m sure we’ll get traffic from new residents next door.”

There’s still a long way to go before South Park’s parking lots and old, underutilized buildings are fully activated. Hanover’s project, however, proves that the change is coming, and perhaps sooner than many expected.