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Apr23

LA’s new soccer stadium is now open

By Bianca Barragan for Curbed Los Angeles | Read the original article here

The much-awaited soccer stadium in Exposition Park opens today near USC.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marks the first time the stadium gates have opened to the public. Today is also the first time that the stadium’s home team—the Major League Soccer franchise the Los Angeles Football Club—trained in the space. The team will play its first game in the stadium later this month.

In addition to a soccer field, the $350 million venue holds shops, a dazzling array of food options, and conference space.

The 22,000-seat, Gensler-designed stadium has been under construction since 2016. The site was previously occupied by the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

The stadium isn’t the only major project in Exposition park right now. The planned George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art broke ground in March. That $1 billion museum will bring a spacey new building and 12 acres of open space to a spot now occupied by parking lots.

Exposition Park’s flurry of construction fits in with a recently revealed master plan for the area that would prepare it to be a centerpiece of the city’s 2028 Olympics festivities.

Apr16

Millennium Hollywood project returns with new name and affordable senior housing

By Bianca Barragan for Curbed Los Angeles | Read the original article here

The beleaguered Millennium Hollywood project has returned.

Developer MP Los Angeles announced today that it has filed new plans with the city for the project, now dubbed Hollywood Center. It would feature 1,005 apartments and condos, including 133 units set aside for low-income seniors.

The housing would be spread across two towers—one with 35 stories and the other with 46—and two 11-story structures on lots next to and across from the Capitol Records building at Yucca and Vine streets.

The Handel Architects-designed development will also include two plazas and pedestrian paths that would cut through the Capitol Records block, between Vine and Argyle Avenue, and the block between Vine and Ivar. High Line designer James Corner Field Operations is overseeing the public areas of the project, which total 1 acre.

Mario Palumbo, managing partner of MP Los Angeles, says the firm is also submitting an application for an alternate version of the project that would involve swapping out some of the apartments for 200 hotel rooms.

The land set to become the Hollywood Center is now the site of parking lots.

The proposed project would comply with Measure JJJ, a ballot initiative passed by votes in 2016 to require developers to provide affordable housing in their projects and hire local workers to build them.

The project was proposed in 2013, but was fervently protested by locals. Opponents said said the towers were too tall and would generate too much traffic; plus there was a big debate about whether an activeearthquake fault runs under the property.

In the end, it was traffic that sidelined the project. In 2015, a judge ruled that the city had failed to adequately address the development’s impacts on traffic on the 101 Freeway. Construction was halted and the developer, then named Millennium Partners, was sent back to the drawing board to begin the environmental review process again.

Palumbo says he’s aiming to secure city approval by the end of 2019, and that construction can begin in 2021.

Apr9

Angelenos might have an earthquake early warning app by the end of 2018

By Alissa Walker for Curbed Los Angeles | Read the original article here

There’s a 93 percent chance that, in the next 30 years, an earthquake as big—or bigger—as the deadly Northridge quake will strike Los Angeles again.

Those odds pushed the city of Los Angeles to pioneer the development of an earthquake early warning system that would give Angelenos up to a minute’s warning before a quake.

Beta-testers of the app have been able to experience how well the technology works over the last few months. Today, when the app issued an alert about a 5.3 earthquake epicentered near the Channel Islands, people near Downtown LA were given a push notification about 30 seconds notice before shaking started.

That app could finally be ready for LA smartphones before the end of the year, say Josh Bashioum and Chase Rief, who are working on the app at Early Warning Labs, a Santa Monica-based technology firm partnered with the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Early warning systems are already widely adopted in countries such as Japan and Mexico, where Mexico City residents got up to 60 seconds’ notice before an 8.1 in September.

“Why do Mexico and Japan have this? They developed it after they had huge losses,” says Rief. “We want to implement it before we do.”

An early warning system has been in developmentfor more than a decade in the U.S., with some local agencies, including Metro and the mayor’s office in Los Angeles, already using the real-time alert data. But USGS had lacked the funds to build out the sensor network and create an app the public can use.

Last year, cuts to the federal budget threatened to zero out the $10 million annually that’s needed to develop the app for the public, but local reps fought to keep the funds in place. Governor Jerry Brown also kicked in some money from the state.

In his state of the city address in April, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the rollout of the early warning system will go hand-in-hand with the city’s sweeping seismic retrofit program.

“By the end of 2018, we will deploy an earthquake early warning system to every corner of this city, in schools, at businesses, even on your smartphone,” he said. “It will give you a head start when an earthquake is coming—precious seconds that save lives.”

Some government agencies in California have been getting alerts for years. San Francisco region’s transit agency, BART, was the first transit agency in the U.S. to use early warning data to stop or slow trains when a tremor is reported. Now LA’s Metro is using the early warning data as well.

Using the data, Metro and USGS have organized multiple drills where all local trains have been stopped simultaneously. USGS has also partnered with Los Angeles Unified School District, which will eventually have warning systems installed at each school, and it’s looking for more businesses and corporations, like current partner NBC Universal, to help test early warnings in office buildings and public spaces.

While the larger industrial applications for the early warning system, like de-energizing high-power electrical lines or depressurizing gas mains, are helpful to prevent secondary catastrophes, much of what makes earthquakes losses so costly are simple, preventable injuries, says Rief.

In the 1994 Northridge earthquake, more than 50 percent of injuries were due to non-structural hazards, like windows or masonry falling down, according to a UC Berkeley study.

Giving people a few seconds to get away from a glass window and under a table, for example, could greatly reduce or eliminate a majority of those injuries, freeing up first responders to address other crises.

Another simple yet critical benefit that an early warning system can provide is giving firefighters time to open the doors of their fire stations. This is directly correlated to LA’s experience after the Northridge quake, Rief says.

“The fire trucks in the immediate area couldn’t get out, and trucks were driving from station to station to cut other trucks out and not responding to calls.”

After a warning of an impending missile strike was erroneously issued to Hawaii residents last weekend, and alerts about wildfires and mudslides came too late to save Californians’ lives—or in some cases, were too geographically widespread to be useful—the conversation about how to reach people before disasters has changed.

Officials in Northern California, for example, chose not to send emergency messages in the middle of the night, because they were worried it might incite mass panic. Last week in Santa Barbara, messages were sent warning people about dangerous flooding, but those messages didn’t reach all phones.

In Hawaii, it was purely human error—an employee’s mistake triggered the message that was disseminated through the emergency alert system. Although officials quickly confirmed the false alarm via Twitter, it was 40 minutes before the next official message came through to phones.

The app being developed by Early Warning Labs is more effective than those alerts—and less fallible to human error, according to its creators.

For one, the warning is a push notification that users can swipe for more information immediately, not a wireless text-only message that must be written, approved, and broadcast over the federal emergency alert system. From detection to alert delivery, the human element has been essentially eliminated. And, instead of blanketing an entire county with a generic message, the warning is customized with a countdown and shaking intensity for each user.

“We do the math on a square-mile basis,” says Rief. “If you are in LA and there’s a 4.0 [earthquake], the people who are closer to it will be getting a push alert, not getting it in Orange County.”

The app being developed for LA will also work as an educational tool before and after the quake to help disseminate instructions about what to do when the alert is activated.

In Mexico, where lax building codes mean earthquakes can kill thousands of people in collapsing structures, people run outside when they receive the warning. This is absolutely not what people should do in LA, where your chances of survival are better if you follow USGS’s protocol. (Which is: drop, cover, hold on.)

“The unique challenge with earthquake early warning is we have to teach people to fight their natural instinct to run outside or run away,” says Bashioum, who previously worked as a first responder and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) manager.

“In the U.S. we really do have a strong and robust building code, especially on the West Coast,” he says. “A building is designed to prevent a collapse so people can survive inside.”

In the hours or days after the quake, the app can continue to send vital information about rescue efforts, emergency shelters, or evacuation routes. It can also help to keep preparedness top of mind since LA hasn’t had a big quake in recent years.

“It’s human nature to be in denial or not to think about large hazards,” says Bashioum. “Even if we know the possibility of something bad happening, we don’t prepare because it’s uncomfortable to think about it.”

But once the app is installed on people’s phones, he says, reporting the frequency of smaller quakes, it might help to put Angelenos in a different mindset—and end up saving lives.

Those who want to be the first to download the app once it’s made public can sign up here.

Apr2

First look at the OMA addition to Wilshire Boulevard Temple

By Bianca Barragan for Curbed Los Angeles | Read the original article here

The Wilshire Boulevard Temple announced today that it submitted plans to the city for a new building to complement its historic 1929 temple.

The new event space—designed by Rem Koolhaas’s firm OMA—“will offer an irresistible invitation to gather, celebrate, learn, and reach out to others ... in the city’s most diverse neighborhood,” says rabbi Steve Leder.

First announced in 2015, the new building will sit just east of the existing temple in Koreatown and will offer a ballroom, meeting rooms, and rooftop garden that are available for rent to temple members and the public.

The temple says in a statement that it has raised $55 million of the estimated $75 million it needs to complete the project, named the Audrey Irmas Pavilion after the donor who contributed $30 million to the campaign.

Construction on the new pavilion could break ground as soon as later this year and open in 2020.

Mar28

Renderings show the dramatic makeover that could be in store for the lower LA River

By Elijah Chiland for Curbed Los Angeles | Read the original article here

A wide array of projects big and small are now moving forward alongside all 51 miles of the Los Angeles River, and some of the most comprehensive planning is taking place along the river’s southern portion, from Vernon to Long Beach.

Last year the Lower Los Angeles River Working Group released a draft plan for the revitalization of the river’s final 19-mile stretch. New renderings, released last week by architecture firm Perkins + Will, offer a glimpse at what the plan could bring to the river, if executed as written.

“The signature projects are probably some of the largest open space opportunities that LA will ever see,” says Martin Leitner, the firm’s Los Angeles urban design leader.

Though the draft plan includes proposals for projects of varying size at hundreds of locations along the river, the most ambitious would transform segments of its concrete channel into public spaces with new parkland, trails, bridges, landscaping, and paths for walkers and cyclists.

The working group—a collection of community organizations, elected officials, and business coalitions—was convened by the state in 2016 to plan for the future of the lower river.

Key elements of the plan put together by the group are detailed in the renderings, including a project near Cudahy Park that will allow residents and visitors to access the concrete river bed, with terraced seating along the walls of the channel.

Another project at the Rio Hondo confluence in the city of South Gate would include a trio of new bridges, equestrian trails, and lush landscaping alongside the river.

In Long Beach, the stretch of river around Willow Street is shown in renderings with meadow-like landscaping and a boardwalk crossing over the river close to the nearby levee.

According to Leitner, Perkins + Will worked with engineering firm Tetra Tech, along with county officials and the working group itself, to create designs that prioritize communities around the river.

“Los Angeles is not about megaprojects, it is a city of diverse communities, cultures and moments,” Leitner says.

The working group released the draft plan in December and collected feedback from residents until January 11, which it will now use in finalizing those concepts. Eventually, the plan will be encompassed into the broader master plan for the entire river, now being worked on by Gehry Partners and other high-profile architecture and engineering firms.

Mar21

Kofi Nartey Discusses How He Sells Million Dollar Homes to High Net Worth and Celeb Clients

By Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson for Shoppe Black | Read the original article here

Kofi Nartey has over fourteen years of professional experience in luxury real estate and has sold millions of dollars worth of real estate. The former athlete and actor is currently the Celebrity and Luxury Homes Specialist and the National Director of the Compass Sports & Entertainment Division. We caught up with Kofi to find out more about how he has managed and trained hundreds of agents, and built a successful real estate business.

SB: How did you decide to get into real estate?

KN: I have always been an entrepreneur and real estate is an industry that has allowed me to build a business. I get to use my business school training, team skills from my sports days, negotiation skills, and interpersonal skills.

It is also rewarding to help people build wealth through investing.

SB: You often work with celebrities and professional athletes. What does it take to attract and keep hi net worth clients?

KN: You have to understand their lifestyles and know how to service them better. They have different wants, needs, and concerns. The better positioned you are to proactively service those needs, the more likely you are to get their business. Once you get them, you keep them with amazing service and follow up.

SB: What are some new and innovative ways you market your services or listings and what “old school” methods are still effective?

KN: I have a saying when it comes to innovation in industries: “Two-thirds tried and true, one-third sexy and new.” Sometimes industries are so innovative, they don’t connect with the consumer. We use technology to improve the client experience and make it more efficient.

Compass, the brokerage I work for, is at the forefront of real estate technology and we use these tools to stay ahead of the market. For the tried and true, you still have to engage and connect with people on a personal level. You may use technology to reach them, but personal engagement will keep them.

SB: People measure success in different ways. What does success in business and in life look like to you?

KN: That’s a simple one. To me success is realizing all of your God given gifts and sharing them with the world. This means, working daily to realize your potential in whatever you are doing and share that potential with those around you.

SB: What advice do you have for fairly new real estate professionals who want to take their business to the next level?

KN: 1. Be ready to work hard. Nothing replaces hard work…not even technology.

2. Find a mentor. Find someone in you can learn from or join a team that gives you more exposure and resources.

3. Set longer term goals. Set your goals a year to three years out, then work daily to accomplish them. Nothing amazing happens over night.

4. Lastly, Focus & Finish. This is a mantra I created and have lived by for a decade. Focus on the small steps that lead to your big goals.

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Be sure to pick up a copy of Kofi’s book Sellebrity: How to Build a Successful Sports & Entertainment Based Business.

Mar12

75 percent of LA residents can’t afford to buy in LA

By Elijah Chiland for Curbed Los Angeles | Read the original article here

Home prices in Los Angeles are quickly getting out of reach for many residents, according to a new report from the California Association of Realtors. It finds that just one in four residents of LA County make enough to afford a median-priced home in the area.

The association’s Housing Affordability Index shows that a typical LA County home cost $553,330 in the fourth quarter of 2017. With property taxes and insurance factored in, that comes out to a monthly payment of $2,790 for buyers (assuming they put down a 20 percent downpayment).

Given those figures, prospective homebuyers need a salary of $111,730 (based on household income) to make those payments without becoming cost-burdened—meaning that more than 30 percent of income goes toward housing. Unfortunately for most people, 75 percent of LA County residents don’t earn that much.

Historic data shows it’s gotten much harder to afford an LA home in recent years. As recently as the first quarter of 2012, more than half of residents took home the required income to purchase a home in the area. Since then, though, prices have risen dramatically and incomes haven’t quite caught up.

In the wider Los Angeles metropolitan area, a salary of $53,780 was required to buy a median-priced home in 2012—compared to $100,210 today.

The outlook is a little better if you’re a first-time homebuyer looking for a starter house. With a median price of $470,330, starter homes in LA County are affordable to 43 percent of residents. Of course, they’ll first have to save up for a hefty $94,066 downpayment (after that, payments are $2,400 per month).

Not surprisingly, the report finds that homes in LA are far less affordable than they are nationwide. Across the country, buyers need a yearly income of $50,040 to purchase a typical home (median price: $247,800). That means that buying is still within reach for 56 percent of Americans.

If only more of those affordable homes were in LA.

Mar5

Kofi Nartey named one of Variety’s 2018 Showbiz Real Estate Elite

By Variety Staff for Variety | Read the original article here

Variety’s annual Showbiz Real Estate Elite are the entertainment industry’s go-to agents, not just in Hollywood, but also on the East Coast, in Miami and even in Europe, Latin America and Asia. Their clients come from all over the globe. Not surprisingly, however, these high-flying negotiators mostly work the properties in the Beverly Hills and Bel-Air hot zone.

The Nartey Group's Kofi Nartey was included in the 2018 edition of the list. "[Kofi's] deals include the sale of NBA coach Derek Fisher’s house (23808 Long Valley) and Nick Young’s house in Tarzana. Represented rapper Big Sean in his off-market purchase. Selling writer-producer Steve Oedekirk’s house (26162 Calle Roberto at $9.99 million). 'Sales at the high-end market are up across the board. [Properties in the] $5 million to $20 million-plus [range] saw an increase year over year. The key is having a unique story to tell about each property,' says Nartey."

Feb26

Planning Commission backs 38-story tower with parking for 860 cars in Historic Core

By Jenna Chandler for Curbed Los Angeles | Read the original article here

Los Angeles city planning commissioners on Thursday unanimously signed off on plans to build a 38-story condominium tower in Downtown LA’s Historic Core.

Developer Barry Shy has been working on the project, named SB Omega, for more than five years. “The review process... has been extraordinarily exacting,” his planning consultant, Kate Bartolo, told the commission.

The plans still have to be vetted by the Planning and Land Use Management Committee and the full City Council, but if ultimately approved, the high-rise would replace Joe’s Auto Parks at the southwest corner of Sixth and Main streets.

It would bring 467 condos (15 of them are designated as “commercial” units), 21,500 square feet of space for ground-floor shops and restaurants, and a whopping 860 parking spaces to the neighborhood. That’s 314 more spaces than what’s required by city code, but commissioners said the parking is needed.

Parking will be built below ground and in a six-story podium below the residential floors. The spaces will be used not just by future tenants of SB Omega, but by residents of four old buildings nearby that have no parking.

“The over-parking makes perfect sense given the neighborhood,” said commissioner Samantha Millman.

Some residents told the commission that they, too, support the project having all those extra spaces, because even in transit-rich Downtown, they still use their cars.

“The Historic Core … is mostly adaptive reuse. We already have a dearth of parking,” said resident Blair Besten. “I need my car. I think asking families to go down to one car is reasonable; asking them to give up their cars is not. I depend on my car to take my child to school, to take him to his father who lives in the suburbs, and to visit friends in outlying areas.”

Commissioners were also finally on board with the project’s architecture, after asking for a number of design changes in December. (See the original renderings from 2014 here.)

“I appreciate the revised tower design, and the layout of the balconies seems clearer,” said commissioner Renee Dake Wilson. “I think it’s gone into a positive direction.”

The latest design tweaks also include adding perforated metal screens to the balconies and “vertical” landscaping on the facade.

Architect David Takacs, who lives on the same block as the project, told the commission that the design concept is “an expression of movement” that “comes from the flow of people and traffic” in the neighborhood.

“I think it’ll be a pleasant experience for a lot of the folks that are walking around Downtown,” said commissioner Caroline Choe.

Feb19

Construction starts on seven-story Skid Row housing complex

By Elijah Chiland for Curbed Los Angeles | Read the original article here

With a cadre of local officials beaming nearby, construction got started Thursday on an ambitious new affordable apartment complex in Skid Row.

Called the Six Four Nine Lofts, the complex will go up at the intersection of Seventh and Wall streets, rising seven stories and bringing 55 units of housing and a new medical clinic to the area.

The project is among the first developments to be funded through Measure HHH—a ballot initiative approved by Los Angeles voters in November of 2016. The measure provides $1.2 billion in funding for permanent supportive housing developments aimed at homeless residents. Such projects include housing set aside for lower-income tenants, along with on-site services such as healthcare, counseling, and job training.

Nonprofit housing provider Skid Row Housing Trust is developing the project, which will include four floors of housing and a three-story medical facility. Los Angeles Christian Health Centers will operate the clinic, which is set to include dental, mental health, and optometry offices, along with a pharmacy.

So far, the city has agreed to provide funding for nine projects using Measure HHH dollars. Once complete, they’ll produce a combined 416 units of affordable housing. That’s not bad—but it’s just a small fraction of the 10,000 units city officials aim to fund over the next 10 years.

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