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Category ArchiveDesign + Construction

Under Construction: 315 Park Avenue South Has a New Lobby

When Columbia Property Trust purchased 315 Park Avenue South from Spear Street Capital for $353.9 million in 2015, the new owner wanted to change the lobby even though it wasn’t in disrepair.

“It wasn’t bad,” Nelson Mills, the CEO and president of Columbia Property Trust, told Commercial Observer. “The previous owners had done a nice job. But we just didn’t think it had the quality that we were looking for; the crispness and clean look.”

The old lobby featured concrete floors and gray walls with wooden furniture and subdued lighting, as well as multicolored artwork. And Columbia Property Trust was hoping for something a little simpler and cleaner.

So the landlord, which hired L&L Holding Company to lease and manage the property at the time, tapped Gensler to reimagine the lobby, as well as revitalize the facade and the storefronts in a project that cost just over $10 million.

In addition, since there were multiple elevator banks with nine cabs altogether and two building entrances, Columbia Property Trust saw the opportunity to separate the lobby and make a main entrance to the building on East 24th Street and a smaller private entrance on Park Avenue South. The private one has two elevators for the tenant that took the top floor, London-based investment firm Winton Capital, as CO previously reported.

The renovation has been completed and now features a clean design with white walls, exposed steel beams covered in white intumescent paint, white ceilings and bright lights. The 3,000-square-foot space also has a marble security desk and upgraded elevator cabs and turnstiles.

The a white box lobby will allow artwork in the lobby to “shine and give it some character,” said Joseph Lauro, a Gensler principal and co-managing director of the company’s New York office.  

Columbia Property Trust expects to select paintings to hang on the lobby walls later this year. The revitalization of the facade and storefronts will be finished by the fall.

Much like the lobby, the facade wasn’t in dire need of repair, but Columbia Property Trust felt it should spruce it up a bit. So there will be moderate but not drastic changes to the classic, Beaux-Arts-style exterior.

Spanning 20 stories, the facade is being cleaned, and Gensler added some lighting to brighten it up. The storefronts will be flanked with more efficient glass. Finally, a new canopy had been added to the main entrance on East 24th Street.

“The building’s facade is beautiful in its current form,” Mills said, “but we wanted to sharpen it up.”

Source: commercial

LA Mayor Appoints City’s First Chief Design Officer

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has appointed Christopher Hawthorne as the city’s first chief design officer, according to an official release. The post was created to “improve the quality of civic architecture and urban design across Los Angeles” and foster a “broad civic conversation about architecture and urban design across the city.”

Hawthorne will be leaving the Los Angeles Times, where he has served as the architecture critic since 2004, to join City Hall next month. As he explained in a column penned for The Los Angeles Times last week, “the main and animating subject of my work has been Los Angeles itself and the major civic transformation that’s underway here.

“It’s precisely the scale of that transformation—how much hangs in the balance as L.A. tries to establish a coherent post-suburban identity and deal with a severe housing and homelessness crisis and the specter of climate change, among other challenges—that explains why I’ve decided to leave after nearly 14 years.” Hawthorne is a native of Berkeley, Calif., and a graduate of Yale University, where he studied political science and architectural history. In addition to his post at the L.A. Times, Hawthorne was professor of practice at Occidental College, where he led an annual L.A. series, exploring the city’s past, present and future and issues that “will dominate the civic conversation.” It was during one of those conversations with Eric Garcetti following his reelection in 2017 that the mayor first spoke about the role in a broad way, Hawthorne told Curbed LA.

It’s a novel role, but not one that hasn’t been adopted by other cities looking to have a more cohesive planning and design process in other ways, as Hawthorne pointed out to Curbed LA following his appointment.

He cited New York’s efforts under former New York City mayors Michael Bloomberg and John Lindsay as examples. The former, he said, empowered some of his commissioners, including Janette Sadik-Khan in transportation to “think boldly about the intersection of their departments with urban design.”

Hawthorne said that the mayor is interested in how a “smart approach to design can not only improve the architecture and public realm but also be a unifying force in leveraging investments in new housing and new transit,” as well as “boosting a larger civic conversation about architecture and design.”

A big part of his role, Hawthorne said, would be communicating across various departments and agencies on the one hand and City Hall and the public on the other.

Hawthorne’s departure comes at an interesting juncture for the L.A. Times, which underwent an ownership change in early February when L.A. biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong purchased the paper, along with other properties from parent company, Tronc.

Hawthorne wasn’t available to talk to Commercial Observer.

Source: commercial

How Do You Build a NoMad Hotel in LA? R.D. Olson’s Bill Wilhelm Has the Answer

Bill Wilhelm has been a part of R.D. Olson Construction, a leading California general contracting firm, since 1994. Perhaps that’s why he considers his colleagues his second family.

Currently president of the business founded by Robert Olson in 1979, the Southern California native lives in Orange County with his high school sweetheart whom he married 31 years ago and his two children. “I can truly say that the R.D. Olson family means as much to me as my family,” Wilhelm, 54, told Commercial Observer. “The kind of projects that we associate with, 70 percent of our work is through existing relationships, repeat customers. When you have those kind of stats, you love what you’re doing.”

The firm, the construction arm of developer R.D. Olson, specializes in hotel and hospitality—which accounts for 60 percent of the firm’s volume—while also pursuing multifamily housing, country club and retail construction projects. Since 2000, the Olson companies have developed over $1 billion in hotel assets and hospitality projects with a client list that includes Marriott, Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, UDR and Affirmed Housing Group. Based in Irvine, Calif., recent projects Wilhelm has worked on include the H Hotel, a 12-story 260,000-square-foot project located adjacent to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the NoMad Los Angeles downtown, which opened earlier this year, and the redesigned Marriott Irvine Spectrum, the only full-service hotel in the Irvine Spectrum Center area. Annual revenues for R.D. Olson Construction have ranged from $225 million to $245 million over the last three years.

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The H Hotel Los Angeles, Curio Collection by Hilton. Photo: R.D. Olson

Wilhelm’s lengthy tenure has not been without conflict. During the city planning and review process for the redevelopment of a Jack in the Box the company has owned since 2014 into a 21-story hotel called Ivar Gardens in Hollywood in 2017, Wilhelm’s membership in Legatus, an anti-gay, anti-abortion Catholic business leader networking group, brought unwelcome attention. Wilhelm became the target of Unite Here Local 11, a powerful union that represents 23,000 hotel, airport and food service workers in California, which objected to the executive’s ties to the organization. Wilhelm announced in a letter following the union’s protest that he was resigning from Legatus, saying that “some of Legatus’ beliefs regarding sexual orientation and women’s rights do not represent my own,” LA Weekly reported. He told CO through a company spokeswoman that he left his role with Legatus because he didn’t have time to be an active member. (The R.D. Olson-helmed project was ultimately approved by the Los Angeles City Council in August 2017, with one council member saying the discrimination allegations against the contractor were not credible.)

Despite the controversy, R.D. Olson Construction was recognized among the top 20 medium-sized firms as one of the region’s, “Best Places to Work,” by the Orange County Business Journal, which Wilhelm attributes to the company’s entrepreneurial spirit, mixed-generation workforce and community and team engagement. Team events have centered around pro-bono work building homes for Habitat for Humanity, Cal Poly Pomona, Rady’s Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald Corporation.

Olson spoke to CO about the evolution of the hospitality industry, including the rise in Airbnb and changing client expectations.

Commercial Observer: In terms of markets, your company works primarily in Los Angeles and Orange County, correct?

Bill Wilhelm: We’re licensed in 22 states. Today our focus is really the West Coast. Most of our work is in California and Hawaii, with work in California taking us from San Diego to Northern California. Our West Coast presence remains strong. It’s probably 95 percent of our work. However, we are geared up in preparation to start to go to back across the country in anticipation that the market is going to see some adjustments in the next year and a half.

What’s behind those adjustments?

We are seeing enough indications to tell us that in the next 18 months or so we’re going to see a change. We’re already seeing the change. We’re seeing stabilization. What’s driving that is the supply and the demand, world economics and the financial industry. We’re starting to see a little bit of a cap on the demand side even though you have more growth at the airport, you have the Olympics in 2028 and you have the football stadium. We’re going to see more of a controlled growth, versus a dead stop. It will slow the process down for the next couple of years.

Is that related to the Trump tax plan?

In the multi-unit world, yeah. We’re going to see single-family homes for sale potentially slow down because of [changes to] the mortgage write-off deduction. From my chair, that’s going to drive up or enhance the multi-unit industry, which has been on fire and maybe allow that multi-unit to go a bit longer because the single-family homes—which everyone says we still don’t have enough supply—you’re going to see a slowdown in the buying, you’re probably going to see housing prices a year or so out start to cap out or go down a tad.

You mentioned that the NoMad concept is the talk of the hospitality industry today. What is it about the model that is generating buzz?

Number one, it’s an adaptive reuse, which is a whole new market itself. It’s been there for a long time, but in the last five years adaptive reuse has come [more] into play. We have seen a lot of our work go from new construction ground-up to adaptive reuse for all the right reasons. With the NoMad property, here is a chance to go into a building that was built in the early 1900s. There is a storyline. There’s history there. There’s an architectural element that you’re going to capture, reinvent, revitalize, but [we will] also bring a whole new flair. The NoMad, which is part of a group out of New York, [Sydell Group]—they are the hottest thing since sliced butter in the hospitality circuit. They are pushing the envelope on the overall guest experience.

22 How Do You Build a NoMad Hotel in LA? R.D. Olsons Bill Wilhelm Has the Answer
NoMad Los Angeles Courtesy R.D. Olson

What asset class does your company focus on?

If you look at our hospitality, we’re not chasing the secondary-type market. We’re engaged in the market that is a higher-end project for a higher-end end-user in mainly a primary type market.  

How many employees do you have at the construction arm of the Olson company?

We have 125 employees. Of those 125 we have close to 35 who are field superintendents. We have operations staff and support staff within our building, which is anything from our accounting group to risk management. It’s a nimble-sized company.

What is the biggest challenge you face?

The biggest challenge in any industry is resources—quantity of resources, quality of resources, material availability. Resources are not only what we deal with here at R.D. Olson, but also our contractors, our designers, even city planners. When you look at the city agencies, they are all stretched pretty thin. A lot of people are going to retire in the next five to 10 years. You have aging industries across the board, which is a challenge with the issues we’re dealing with today. The largest percentage of our workforce is going to be the millennials.

Millennials tend to get a bad rap. Are there certain strengths that you see in this generation?

Oh yeah, I’m not one to give them a bad rap because we were all millennials ourselves within our own generational description. They are just a lot smarter than we ever were at that stage of our lives. They have a lot of great things to offer, just like the Gen Xers and the baby boomers have. Our baby boomers and Gen Xers here within R.D. Olson are really welcoming the millennials with open arms and vice versa. They have come together because each generation has been able to bring a unique offering to the table. My superintendents who are 70 years old, are some of the most tech-savvy superintendents you are going to find in the industry and that’s because millennials are investing their knowledge, their experience in them. My millennials are some of the best because my seasoned veterans are sharing with them their experiences on how to deal with certain situations.

What do millennials bring to your company specifically?

Tech, but it’s also the way they look at life. Their expectations. They want it now. Do I agree with all their expectations? No. But if you really step back and listen to what their expectations are and you have a conversation, they’re smart enough to listen to some reason today.

What are you doing to stay ahead of tech and construction trends?

bill wilhelm How Do You Build a NoMad Hotel in LA? R.D. Olsons Bill Wilhelm Has the Answer
Bill Wilhelm Courtesy R.D. Olson

We are updating every platform across company lines. We are updating our construction operations software, our accounting software. We are bringing in new technology that allows us to look at buildings three-dimensionally, to understand the building makeup, how these buildings function, how they operate.  All our superintendents work off iPads. Some of them still have blueprints on the job sites, but those are usually building permits that are required by city officials. We’re just now finishing an $80 million 15-story project here in Orange County and we don’t have blueprints aside from the permits. The entire team built this project off our ability to work online and communicate in a concentrated effort with all our consultants, all our contractors and within our own project team.

You are in the process of updating your operations systems.

A year-and-a-half ago I thought we were cutting edge. We were, but nowhere near where we could or needed to be. We made the commitment to literally go across company lines from accounting to business development, to field operations and are enhancing and updating every platform across the board.

What are the latest trends in hotel development? What are clients asking for?

We have seen a [demand for a] lifestyle experience for the last seven or eight years. When people stay in a hotel, they want a nice room, but they also want a public forum, an open area where they can be part of a community gathering. We’re seeing more and more of that. The social, community area is continuing to step up another notch. That can be anything from the quality of the material to the amenities that are provided. Social connection and interaction is probably the top runner right now in the hospitality industry, which also includes your restaurant facilities and what have you. That’s a market that’s on fire right now.

Is Airbnb having a major impact on the hotel and hospitality industry? (Cities across California have put limits on Airbnb, though, as Curbed LA reported on Feb. 8, in Los Angeles, where there are approximately 23,000 listings for short-term rentals, the L.A. City Council delayed a vote on rules on such arrangements.)

I think like everything else, it has taken a bite out of the hospitality industry because it’s another resource, another option for consumers to consider. It takes a percentage away, but when you look at the sheer numbers [in] the hospitality industry—the number of users that are traveling—we’ve seen a significant increase. So, if anything it’s keeping the hospitality industry a little more honest, a little more focused on the goal line, to not take things for granted, as much as we might have in the past. We must focus on the experience because if we don’t three, four, five years from now there might be a greater impact from Airbnb.

Have there been any injuries or deaths on your sites this year?

We did have one death on the job site, but it was non-job related. A gentleman was up on the roof deck in a safe area and he just happened to have a heart attack, which was a hereditary issue, based on what we found out.

Do you only use union labor?

We are nonsignatory to the union so we use the most qualified and competitive subcontractors that are out there.

Is your company facing a labor shortage?

There is a labor-resource issue in the construction industry and building in general. We have a shortage of qualified craftsmen, designers, even as I said earlier, a shortage of city [inspection] officials.

How have you dealt with rising costs on the large-scale multi-year projects you work on?

It’s been difficult. It’s delayed some projects. It has required us to think outside the box in terms of means and methods to offset some of those costs. It has driven the bottom-line cost of development and construction up. And that is only one part of it. If you look at overall development costs, land costs have gone up substantially, design costs have gone up substantially. For a developer that was going to build, say a Renaissance Inn today, to build that same property in the same city is probably 30 to 40 percent more than what he was going to pay seven years ago. But, on the flip side, look at what he is going to get for a nightly rate today compared to what he made back then.

What about construction costs?

Within the construction industry we have seen an increase over the past few years of close to 30 percent increase, most of which is in labor and some in subcontractor margin.

Today construction costs have plateaued. We’re going to see a couple of small increases, but I’m hoping to see a couple of small decreases or at least for it to stabilize itself, versus the last four years.

Where do you think the biggest opportunities in the contracting business are moving forward?

Every project, every state is different. If I just look at the state of California, Title 24 [The California Building Standards Code, also known as Title 24, serves as the basis for the design and construction of buildings in California. Composed of 12 parts, the regulations cover everything from electrical, plumbing and green building standards code], those are things that continue to throw challenges at us. How do you manage the ongoing code enhancements, the ongoing building requirements to meet the end user’s needs? That is one of the challenges of the industry. Construction, in general, outside of resources being a big issue, are the design parameters that are being driven by a lot of factors from code to owner to end-user expectation.

Source: commercial

The Plan: Serendipity Labs at 28 Liberty Street

Office space provider Serendipity Labs likes to say it’s in the “hospitality business,” not in the coworking or office rental industry.

So its first Manhattan location at Fosun International’s 28 Liberty Street (the former One Chase Manhattan Plaza) was designed with more than just office workers in mind.

The Rye, N.Y.-based company, which was founded in 2011, also built out what it calls a “social club” area. It includes a pantry and a separate 75-person conference space for seated events (or 150 standing).

20180308 commercial observer serendipity labs 0066 The Plan: Serendipity Labs at 28 Liberty Street
20180308 commercial observer serendipity labs 0060 The Plan: Serendipity Labs at 28 Liberty Street
20180308 commercial observer serendipity labs 0109 The Plan: Serendipity Labs at 28 Liberty Street
20180308 commercial observer serendipity labs 0091 The Plan: Serendipity Labs at 28 Liberty Street
20180308 commercial observer serendipity labs 0120 The Plan: Serendipity Labs at 28 Liberty Street

The idea is that even if you aren’t a member that has signed an agreement for a private office, you can become a coworking member and attend social events in the pantry or host events in the conference center.

To create that cool vibe, the design of the space is sleek and clean. Wood panels are used decoratively on the ceilings and the walls of the pantry. The walls are white, and the tables are made of white marble, evoking the style of a high-end bar. And floor-to-ceiling glass allows natural light into the space and provides views of Lower Manhattan.

“It’s about design for service. It’s about design for hospitality,” John Arenas, the chairman and CEO of Serendipity Labs, said during a tour of the space before it opened to members on Monday. “It’s not just an amenity for the members, it’s a club.”

Onsite will be a general manager, a sales manager and a few experience coordinators. The latter are there for organizing member events including ordering food and decorations.

“Anyone can sign a lease and take a space. It’s what’s behind the elegant space that’s hard,” Arenas said.

Serendipity Labs occupies the entire 34,000-square-foot sixth floor of the building, which sits at the corner of Liberty and William Streets. It can fit about 500 people within its 69 private offices and 18 wooden coworking desks.

In the office areas there are various workspace options, such as dinner-style booths with tables, conference rooms and “focus” rooms (for one person). The focus rooms have opaque glass doors for privacy and can be used for nursing or even prayer.

The floor of the pantry is made of polished concrete and the ceilings are exposed; however, in the private office suites there is carpeting and drop ceilings with acoustic-reduction paneling.

The reasoning behind this feature is that Serendipity Labs wants to provide the protection of privacy for its office members as it targets established companies looking to outsource workspace. (Shared offices for startup companies are less insistent on having privacy and tend to push for more engagement between the companies.) Carpeting and ceiling panels help reduce noise. Plus, the office suites are enclosed in frosted glass so passersby can’t see into them. And the walls that divide the office suites have insulation to reduce noise.

“Our design really has in mind to protect the intellectual property and the conversations of our members,” Arenas said. “Maybe [having less privacy] is fun if you are in your 20s and in a startup. If you are a grown up, it’s not so fun.”

Source: commercial

Eataly Settles Into Its 67K-SF Digs at Westfield Century City in LA

Like a nice bottle of Italian wine, Eataly L.A. has had time to breathe since it opened.

The crowds that greeted the November opening of the Italian food emporium’s first West Coast location at the Westfield Century City had wait times of up to four hours, proving that, even in Los Angeles, gluten is far from shunned, Matija Blazic, the communications and PR manager at Eataly L.A., told Commercial Observer. (In response to the line insanity Eataly L.A. created a temporary Line-O-Meter on their Twitter account to give would-be visitors an update on wait times by a ranking of hot peppers.)

Eataly L.A. is the largest location for the brand at 67,000 square feet, edging out Chicago’s 63,000-square-foot market. It encompasses four restaurants, multiple kitchens, nine-takeaway food counters, a cooking school, retail space, two chilled wine storage rooms and a clean room with customized pasteurizers to create authentic gelato and mozzarella, built by Clune Construction, a national general contractor with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Clune worked closely with Eataly and the architect, STUDIOS Architecture, the commercial interior design firm behind Eataly’s Lower Manhattan property and other high-profile projects in New York, including Nike’s Midtown office at 855 Avenue of the Americas.

Originally launched in 2007 in Turin, Italy, by Oscar Farinetti, the L.A. iteration is the 39th of 40 Eataly outposts around the world. (Amazingly, there is a more recent one: an Eataly opened in Stockholm to much fanfare on Feb. 17.) There is no sign of stopping, with stores planned for Las Vegas starting in 2018 and Toronto in 2019, according to Alex Saper, the COO and partner of Eataly USA.

A few months in, the crowds at Eataly L.A. have become more manageable. On a sunny weekday late afternoon in March, it’s downright peaceful.

The market is spread out over two floors and soon a third, once the rooftop restaurant, Terra, is completed by Clune this spring. Two-interconnected spiral staircases, link the three marketplace floors.

The staircase was no small feat: Clune worked with an out-of-state manufacturer in Minnesota to fabricate the stairs, shipped them to Los Angeles in large pieces and then carefully installed them into the space with the use of a crane.

Each Eataly is built around a theme and for L.A., it’s water, both as an element and its preservation. One of the most distinctive features of Eataly L.A. is a greywater system dedicated to recycling water from hand-washing sinks in restrooms and condensation from refrigerators and reusing it to water indoor plants, an olive tree and to flush toilets. It’s the first of its kind for Eataly and posed unique challenges.

“The greywater system was pretty complex. It’s certainly the first one I’ve worked on in L.A. to this capacity,” Peter Bahruth, the managing director and general superintendent of the west region at Clune, said. “Typically, a greywater system is done inside a building. It’s part of the building infrastructure. This is the first one I’ve worked on in the interior of a client’s space.”

Tanks for the greywater system are visible on the second floor, just outside the cooking school La Scuola di Eataly, and parallel to dessert counters offering gelato and, exclusive to the L.A. location, Cannoli E Bomboloni, which offers made-to-order Sicilian cannoli and stuffed bomboloni.

“Our in-house greywater system reduces the amount of drinkable water we use by 33 percent by collecting all ‘greywater,’ or used water from the hand-washing in our restrooms and the condensation from our refrigeration unit,” Saper said. “Water is the essence of life. It’s crucial to both Italy and our new home in California, especially considering droughts. Basically: water is the one of the main concerns for the future. It’s clear that we need water in our lives; it’s also clear that there’s a problem with our water usage.”

In addition to the greywater tanks, Saper said Eataly L.A. is using technology across the store to save water.

“Our kitchen equipment will use 64 percent less water than a comparable commercial kitchen, saving 5.5 million gallons of water every day,” Saper said. “We are the first Eataly location to have this type of system.”

Bob Dahlstrom, the executive managing director and president of the west region of Clune, said extensive planning was required in the months leading up to actual construction to ensure the plumbing was completely solid. They began with early work, including plumbing and electrical, in July 2016, with the construction phase beginning that December.

“A great deal of attention was paid to making sure it was well-detailed and constructed properly to make sure there would be no leaks,” Dahlstrom said. “There were over 400 penetrations in the third-floor slab that opened up into the second floor. All those had to be very carefully detailed out and built properly to avoid damage to the Macy’s below.”

By all accounts, it was a labor-intensive, but highly-rewarding process. Clune had an on-site staff of eight to handle the project.

“There were a lot of moving parts and not only was it the traditional trade people, we were also working into the schedule certain equipment and finishes that were brought in from Europe,” Dahlstrom said. “There was the bread oven from Spain. There was a pizza oven from France. We had all this equipment that was coming in, we had tile that was coming in and we had the millwork that was made in Italy and installed by Italian carpenters for several months concurrent with our construction.” But that, he said, was part of the charm of the project, recalling hearing Italian work crews speaking in their native tongue. “That was pretty cool.”

Neither Clune nor Eataly would disclose the budget and final cost of the L.A. Eataly buildout.

The fusion of old world and the new—a standard Eataly approach—is evident not only in the mixed crews that constructed the property, but the products and other offerings in L.A.

Like other Eatalys, there are markets scattered on the main floor dedicated to cheese and cured meats, seafood, bread, cut meats and pastries, as well as a large selection of fresh produce and imported Italian groceries. Three restaurants—the seafood-oriented Il Pesce Cucina, La Pizza, dedicated to Neapolitan-style pizza, and La Pasta, (self-explanatory)—are arranged around floor-to-ceiling windows offering a view of palm-tree-lined Santa Monica Boulevard and the hills of Century City and beyond. Eataly L.A., like other locations, enlists local talent among its roster of culinary masters. (Aside from co-founder Mario Batali, whose products were pulled from its shelves in response to sexual assault allegations leveled at the famous chef.) Acclaimed local chef and restaurateur Michael Cimarusti and his co-owner Donato Poto of Providence helm the seafood restaurant. L’Orto dello Chef, Eataly’s take on the salad bar, which was first introduced at their Downtown New York location, will be helmed with a rotating collaboration with local chefs. Currently, Jason Neroni of Venice’s iconic Rose Café, is curating its offerings.

In terms of firsts, Eataly L.A. is the only location where patrons can sit outside, with tables on an outdoor balcony offered to take advantage of the usually pleasant SoCal weather. It also is the only location thus far to offer Roman style pizza—thicker-crust oblong pies baked and served up on wooden pallets—which was doing well with the late-afternoon snacking crowd.

In a nod to California’s established new-world winemaking industry, the West Coast outpost features non-Italian wines for the first time for purchase.

“California and Italy share many similarities, including the climate, which allows us to be even more in touch with the community and pay homage to California’s rich wine tradition,” Saper said.

The West Coast market also offers an olive oil department reminiscent of olive oil tasting rooms and local artisan retailers like We Olive, where customers can sample and fill bottles of select product for purchase. In addition, Eataly L.A. carries the small-batch, hard-to-find White Moustache Yogurt, whose founder Homa Dashtaki makes 288, eight-ounce glass jars a day, filled by hand in a dairy room downstairs. Given the year-round produce available out West Coast, the L.A. outpost debuted the first-ever farmer’s market last Friday amid the usual fresh-ingredient offerings.

“We like to think of our stores as a family,” Saper said. “We are a brand, but each store is slightly different and has its own personality, just like siblings.”

Eataly LA
10 2017 eataly 59 Eataly Settles Into Its 67K SF Digs at Westfield Century City in LA
Rossopomodoro pizzeria
Salumi e Formaggi
La Pescheria
La Panetteria
Source: commercial

Hudson Pacific Properties and Macerich to Redevelop Westside Pavilion

Hudson Pacific Properties and Macerich have partnered to transform the Westside Pavilion mall on the Westside of Los Angeles into a campus featuring 500,000 square feet of creative office space, according to an official joint statement.

Approximately 100,000 square feet of the 600,000-square- foot property will be retained for existing entertainment and retail space. The 12-screen Landmark Theatres complex will remain in the reconfigured mall, as will Westside Tavern restaurant, both of which have performed well and will be “great amenities to tenants,” sources familiar with the deal told Commercial Observer.

The companies estimate total project costs in the range of $425 million to $475 million, with each partner contributing their pro-rata share, according to the official statement. (Those figures include the undisclosed estimated value of the existing mall.) Hudson Pacific will hold 75 percent of the joint venture and will be the property’s day-to-day operator and Macerich, the owner of the property, 25 percent.

The redevelopment, set for completion in 2021, is indicative of the rising demand for creative office space citywide, but particularly on the Westside, home to a large concentration of high-tech, media and start-up ventures. Sources familiar with the deal at HPP, which focuses on acquiring, repositioning, developing and operating high-end office and media and entertainment properties in select West Coast markets, said the venture began receiving inquiries from interested tenants since rumors began circulating about the joint venture and potential office conversion last year.

“Westside Pavilion is a perfect opportunity for us to reposition a marquee asset in a premier location. The project is poised to capture the strong demand from tenants for creative office space on the Westside of Los Angeles,” Victor Coleman, the chairman and CEO of Hudson Pacific, said in the official statement.

The partnership between developer Hudson Pacific Properties and Macerich, also reflects a wider national trend in which struggling shopping malls are being redeveloped in order to survive.

“Our joint venture with Hudson Pacific will enable us to maximize the value of this incredibly well-situated real estate with dynamic new uses,” Art Coppola, the chairman and CEO of Macerich, said in the joint statement.

The Pavilion, which opened in 1985, has struggled with weakening occupancy rates given the rise of online retail and nearby competition, including the Westfield Century City, which completed a $1 billion revamp in 2017. The redeveloped mall has siphoned off business and longstanding tenants from Westside Pavilion, with Nordstrom leaving for the Century City mall last year and Macy’s, which already opened a new store at Century City, closing its location at the Westside Pavilion later this month. The Westfield mall also became home to the first West Coast branch of Eataly, the high-end gourmet Italian food marketplace, which opened last November.

Source: commercial

The Plan: Industrious Touts Sophistication in Union Square Expansion

Flexible office provider Industrious—which has attracted companies such as Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Chipotle and Mashable to outsource their workplaces—tries to give a healthy dollop of sophistication to its spaces.

So when the company decided to expand its only Manhattan location on the 12th floor at SL Green Realty Corp.’s 215 Park Avenue South between East 17th and East 18th Streets by taking the 11th floor, Industrious configured the new space with the same simple and elegant designs found on the 12th floor. That also meant no foosball tables, arcade machines or mini-basketball shooting games were added.

“It’s a professional environment. Playfulness is not the priority,” Eivind Karlsen, the head of design at Industrious, told Commercial Observer during a tour of the new space. “It’s about how are you working throughout the day.”

At the front of the 17,500-square-foot 11th floor is the pantry (which was in the back of the 12th floor). That is the first thing members, guests and prospective clients see as they exit the elevator.

“The first impression, whether you are a guest of an Industrious member or a client, is important,” Karlsen said.

And since tenants are more focused on hospitality these days, Industrious designed elements that would make one feel more at home.  

“We designed it more residential,” Karlsen said. “It has that sort of cozy feel. You’ll see more greenery. It feels like an apartment.”

The pantry features marble countertops, wooden cabinets, sleek appliances and a variety of seating options. And the residential vibe can be felt strongly in the lounge space that flanks the pantry, as there are sofas and other kinds of plush seating, carpeting, plants, books and ambient lighting.

The 11th floor, which Industrious has occupied as of January, has room for around 140 people in its 40 offices as the suites can accommodate between one to 10 persons.

In addition, the new space has two conference rooms, two “huddle” meeting rooms, three small rooms for private phone calls and a small glass-less room with one chair and a small table called the “focus room” (for when you want to be left alone). Exposed ceilings and concrete floors grace the expanse and there are audio reduction panels in the common areas.

The offices are furnished with wooden tables that have blackened steel legs. The new internal staircase, which joins the two floors, also features blacked steel framing. It is a reference to Industrious’ Brooklyn roots.

It’s a “metaphor of the Brooklyn Bridge,” Karlsen said. “We are bridging Manhattan to Brooklyn.”

Source: commercial

NYC’s Top 10 Commercial Interior Design Firms of 2018

Although exterior architecture often grabs headlines, it’s the interior design that usually makes or breaks a project. With that in mind, Commercial Observer has ranked New York City’s best and most interesting architecture firms that do commercial interior design work.

For our second annual interior design list, we queried top architecture firms and landlords to see who they trusted to handle the interiors for their top developments. Then we reached out to prominent commercial interior design firms and asked how many square feet they designed last year, the value of their projects and what they consider their noteworthy work from 2017. We tried to look beyond the numbers—which were the basis of our first list, published in October 2016—and consider who was doing the most interesting and exciting work. (Lists like these, especially when considering firms whose work is largely aesthetic, include a number of judgment calls.)

Whether they are designing Uber’s offices, renovating and converting the landmarked Waldorf Astoria hotel, or building out Citigroup’s world headquarters, we tried to include firms working on a diverse roster of projects, big and small.—Rebecca Baird-Remba

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Source: commercial

The Plan: Santa Monica’s Historic Sears Gets New Life

Kacy Keys has fond memories of visiting the Sears in downtown Santa Monica, Calif., recalling childhood trips to the department store with her grandmother in the 1970s. At that point, the retailer could rightly claim, as per its advertising at the time to be “Where America Shops,” but, of course, that didn’t remain the case. Declining sales forced the iconic American retailer to shutter 200 stores just last year.

Keys, who has spent much of her career on adaptive reuse projects, is hardly caught up in the past. (She was most notably the senior real estate representative in L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan’s Office of Economic Development, where she spearheaded the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance and major development projects in downtown L.A. and surrounding areas, including the Staples Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Old Bank District.)

As senior vice president and head of the Western division of Seritage Growth Properties, the publicly traded real estate investment trust established by Sears in 2015 that owns 253 Sears and Kmart stores, she is charged with finding new uses for struggling properties. The three-acre, centrally located Sears in Santa Monica is one of three premier projects being reworked this year. (The company broke ground last November on the Esplanade at Aventura, an all-retail project in South Florida, which will replace the Sears at the Aventura Mall and is redeveloping another Sears property at the Westfield University Town Center in San Diego.)

For the Santa Monica location, a verifiable landmark—designed by noted architect Rowland Crawford in Late Moderne style—Seritage is working on keeping historic details of the store while bringing it into the modern age with an estimated $50 million budget.

The mixed-use project is expected to break ground this month after clearing one final hurdle—a hearing and expected greenlight from the California Coastal Commission slated for March 8—will preserve the historic exterior of the big-box store, while literally lightening it up.

Following the temporary removal of the roof, Los Angeles-based House & Robertson Architects, will cut holes in the floor plates in the middle of the building to allow the atrium’s natural light to reach clear down to the basement level. The removal and replacement of the roof is also part of the seismic retrofitting needed for the 70-year-old building.

A fourth story will be added by capturing attic space between the third floor and the roof that was previously used for storage. The roof will be restored as a landscaped and furnished outdoor deck with ocean views and will be a key amenity for tenants of the approximate 53,000 square feet of office space for rent on the top two floors. Keys predicts that a single tenant will occupy the space, and, given its location in Silicon Beach, will likely be a tech-driven or media-oriented client, though, “it could be a hedge fund for all we know, right? Keys said with a chuckle. True. Creative office is a growing demand in all sectors.

The architect is behind the revamp of other local notable properties, including the Petersen Automotive Museum on Museum Row, and the expansion of the historic Farmers Market in the Fairfax District.

An office lobby, courtyard and Market Hall featuring a mix of 32 retail and food-and-beverage vendors will take up approximately 58,000 square feet of retail space at the ground and basement levels of the property scheduled to be open in the fall of 2019. AVRO/KO is the design architect behind the Market Hall portion. Nabih Youssef Associates is the structural engineer.

Keys said the building’s rebranding as “Mark 302″ was to not only reflect its address at 302 Colorado Avenue, but also the Market Hall concept and its place as a destination moving forward.

While the Sears logo is still visible in official renderings of the property, whether it remains is yet to be determined and will depend on the tenant’s preference.

Despite being situated at the back of Macerich’s high-end outdoor mall Santa Monica Place and the retail-ladened Third Street Promenade, Keys said they didn’t fear oversaturation, especially given the influx of an estimated 60,000 daily riders at the terminus of the city’s expanded Metro Expo line, which now connects downtown Santa Monica to the Eastside clear to downtown Los Angeles. (As of last June, the Metro reached its 2030 ridership goal in just about a year, with an estimated 64,164 weekday riders.)

“We think we are in a unique location,” Keys said. “We see it as the tie that connects Santa Monica Place, the [Santa Monica] Pier and the Civic Center. We’re sitting right in the middle of that cross[roads] between all of those things. The pedestrian traffic and the location between the train and the pier is ideal and really lends itself to a multi-use project here.”

Sears building redevelopment
Sears building redevelopment
Sears building redevelopment
Sears building redevelopment
Sears building redevelopment
Source: commercial

Construction Experts Nervous About Trump’s Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

Construction experts were troubled by President Donald Trump’s announcement last Thursday for a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tax on aluminum imported to the United States.

The policy will increase the costs of construction, which in New York City are already at dizzying heights, they said. Ultimately, it will affect the overall project costs and could make it harder for future projects to get completed.

“Rising construction costs, along with labor costs and bank financing constraints, have been a significant factor in limiting property development over the course of this [economic] expansion,” Sam Chandan, the associate dean at the New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate, said in a statement to Commercial Observer. “Policies that add to cost pressures exacerbate drags on new supply.”

While the the details on the tariffs are murky, foreign countries have already pledged to retaliate, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker saying, “We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk,” according to CNN.

The announcement comes just less than a month after the White House revealed an infrastructure plan in which the federal government would spend just $200 billion fixing public infrastructure over the next decade and expect states, localities and private companies to generate $1.5 trillion to fund projects. That plan also had its critics within the construction industry, as CO previously reported.

Companies that heavily rely on steel and aluminum have issued statements in opposition to the president’s plan to increase duties on steel and aluminum, while Trump generally responded that it was necessary because the country was losing jobs and money to others.

“The United States has an $800 billion dollar yearly trade deficit because of our ‘very stupid’ trade deals and policies,” Trump tweeted on March 3. “Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!”

However, leaders of construction companies and trade organizations weren’t pleased.

While making foreign steel more expensive via taxes could mean companies may further use domestic steel, the U.S. industry will not have the supply to keep up with the demand, said Louis Coletti, the president and CEO of the Building Trades Employers’ Association.

“The U.S. steel manufacturers cannot produce the quantity of steel needed. Steel manufacturers are already telling contractors to expect price increases,” Coletti said. “The lack of steel availability will also cause scheduling delays that will add to additional cost increases. This policy will have a detrimental impact on the economic growth of [New York] and the nation.”

And in the case of the 10 percent tariff on aluminum, which is heavily used for curtain wall systems in glassy high-rises, the uptick may not even be enough to help domestic manufacturers.

“A 10 percent tariff as a stand alone probably won’t move the needle to where it would make it less expensive to buy domestic [aluminum],” said Richard Wood, the president of Plaza Construction. “[But] it’s a problem, because we are trying to make projects more affordable.”

Source: commercial