Architects selected to create masterplan for large development next to Echo Park

Oct 17, 2017

Vacant office building and a church now occupy the site of the planned development

It’s been more than a  year since preventionists failed to have a Mid-Century office building designed by noted L.A. architect William Pereira declared a historic landmark. The site,  located between Echo Park and Downtown, has been pretty quiet since then. But today, the  owner announced the hiring of a high-powered design team to come up with a masterplan for the approximately 5-acre site on Sunset Boulevard.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, one of the world’s largest architecture firms, and landscape architect James Corner, whose firm worked on the High Line in New York and Santa Monica’s Tongva Park,  will collaborate on a plan for a mixed-use project that will rise on the former campus of the Metropolitan Water District.

“At the heart of this project is a desire to reflect the spirit and the history of this property through a modern, forward-thinking lens that embraces the Downtown site’s adjacency to Chinatown, Bunker Hill, Echo Park and the Civic Center,” said José Palacios of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, known as SOM, in a statement. “It’s a challenge we are confident and energized to embrace.”

But the announcement from Palisades,  the Los Angeles real estate firm behind the project,  did not include any details about the potential size of the development or when construction might begin. While Palisades did file a permit to demolish the buildings, the permit has remained pending for more than a year, according to city records. “With a team of this caliber, we eagerly look forward to seeing the design process evolve in the weeks and months ahead,” Brian Falls of Palisades said in a statement.

The owners in their announcement noted that the SOM has extensive experience in re-using existing buildings into new developments. But it’s not clear if the Pereira-designed structures will be worked into the new project.

The property at the base of Victor Heights adjacent to Echo Park consists of part of the former MWD campus built during the 1960s as well as a religious sanctuary constructed in the 1990s by the Holy Hill Community Church. After the church filed for bankruptcy, the property was sold to Palisades for about $30 million, according to the L.A. Business Journal.

The sale, however, did not include the former MWD office tower on the west end of the block that was converted into pricey apartments. That building, now known as The Elysian, has separate ownership.

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