Brooksiders Hear from LADWP and See New CIM Renderings

Representatives of CIM and Omgivning Architects presented new drawings of the Wilshire Mullen at last night’s meeting of the Brookside Homeowners’ Association.

At their quarterly community meeting at Memorial Branch Library last night, members of the Brookside Homeowners’ Association got updates on local activities from LADWP, City Council District 4, and the CIM Group, which is redeveloping the old Farmer’s Insurance property at Wilshire and Mullen.

LADWP

LADWP’s Randy Bowen speaks to Brooksiders at last night’s meeting.

Representatives from LADWP were invited to the meeting because the Brookside neighborhood has experienced eight significant power outages so far this year, and neighbors wanted to learn more about the local power system and the recent failures.

According to LADWP Southern District Manager Randy Bowen, the recent outages in Brookside broke down as follows:

February:
– 3 outages
– 1,600 customers affected
– Cause:  underground equipment failure and trees in wires

April:
– 3 outages
– 2650 customers affected
– Cause:  high winds

May:
– 2 outages
– 3,200 customers affected
– Cause: trees growing into overhead wires

Bowen noted that about 90% of the power circuits in Brookside are above ground, while the remaining 10% are underground.  Above-ground circuits are more vulnerable to damage and outages than underground circuits, he said, but they’re also faster and easier to fix than underground circuits when they fail.

Bowen also explained that when electrical circuits do fail, they are replaced, and the city is also working hard to more generally update its aging power structure.  Bowen said the DWP has invested more than $2 billion in infrastructure maintenance and rebuilding in the last three years, across the city, and more than $13 million in the Greater Wilshire area.  This includes both replacing old cables and expanding the capacity of the circuits.

Finally, Bowen urged residents to contact DWP immediately if there’s an outage, or if people see trees growing into power lines, leaning power poles or other signs that trouble may be coming.  Contact options include:

Interestingly, said LADWP communications representative Michael Ventre, Twitter may be the best way to contact the department these days, because they now have someone constantly monitoring that account.

City Council District 4

CD4 Field Deputy Rob Fisher reported that the city’s budget for the next fiscal year was recently finalized, and it includes $7 million for concrete street repairs.  Some of the streets, Fisher said, will be repaired with concrete, while others will be converted to a white asphalt slurry surface, which will have an appearance similar to concrete, and will be cooler than traditional black asphalt.

Also included in the new city budget, Fisher said, is $25 million for city trees, including $2 million to conduct a city-wide tree survey that will help the city to better plan for tree maintenance and replacement, in addition to the more purely reactive emergency tree services the city has been limited to in recent years.

Finally, Fisher said, the city has also allocated a significant amount of money to address homelessness (which, as recently-released numbers show, increased by 16% in Los Angeles last year).  “It cannot be a higher priority for our office and for the city,” Fisher said.

According to Fisher, efforts to prevent homelessness – such as reforming the Ellis Act to help prevent evictions, reforming rent control laws – are especially important in fighting the problem.  Many Angelenos, he noted, spend more than 50% of their income on rent, and are just a paycheck away from losing their shelter.

Finally, Fisher also provided several contact and engagement options for residents, including contacting him directly, calling 311 or using the MyLA311 app, logging property-related complaints with the Department of Building and Safety, and contacting the Department of Transportation for traffic safety issues.  Fisher also urged residents to contact him once they have submitted issues to DBS and DoT, so he can follow up on the problems.

CIM Wilshire Mullen Development

The final presentation of the evening was from representatives of CIM, the firm that is redeveloping the old Farmers Insurance property bordered by Wilshire, Rimpau, 8th and Muirfield.

CIM Associate Vice President Lina Lee explained that the specifics of the Wilshire Mullen project have not changed since they last reviewed it with neighbors at their August 2018 neighborhood meeting. So the development will still cover two blocks.  “Block A,” between Rimpau and Mullen, will contain the historic office tower, renovatd to include 63 residential condominiums, as well as eight townhomes along Wilshire Blvd. and Mullen Ave., an amenities deck for residents, and two levels of subterranean parking.  “Block B,” between Mullen and Muirfield, will contain 10 rowhomes (called “duplex homes” on the graphic below) along Wilshire, Mullen and Muirfield, and six single-family homes along 8th St.

What was new in last night’s presentation was new images of the proposed new buildings, as well as a drawing showing what the eastern face of the old office tower will look like after the renovations.

First of all, along the Wilshire Blvd. side of Block A, above, the townhome units will be done in an Art Deco-era style compatible with the style of the historic office tower next door.  Where the tower emphasizes strong vertical lines, however, the townhomes, in a similar dark trim and white plaster color palette, will feature the strong horizontal lines and gentle curves of the Streamline Moderne style.

Streamline Moderne-style townhomes will sit just to the east of the old office tower.  The eastern face of the tower building will also be redesigned as shown.

Meanwhile, as can also be seen in the above photo, the eastern face of the tower building will also be re-designed.  According to the presenters, that side of the building has always been much plainer than the other sides, because Farmer’s Insurance built the building in stages, and leaving one side mostly unadorned made it easier to add on to the building on that side.  Now, however, CIM will create vertical ribbons of windows and terraces that echo the similar design on the other three sides of the building.

On the Mullen Ave. side of Block A, there will be the parking entrance for the development, along with more townhome units, each of which will have stoops with pedestrian access facing Mullen.

View from Mullen Ave., looking west.

On Block B, along Wilshire between Mullen and Muirfield, there will be a row of rowhomes, stepping down a bit from the townhomes just to the west.  These buildings will have a “Contemporized Spanish” style, designed to pay “homage” to similar Spanish-style archicture that exists throughout the neighborhood.

Along Murirfield, there will be more rowhomes (again called duplexes on the graphic below), and a side view of one of the homes along 8th St.

And then, along Eighth Street, on the south side of Block B, there will be a row of new single family homes, each in a different style borrowed from other local homes, including one in a formal Spanish style, two variations on European Cottage style, one in a less formal Spanish Colonial design, and one with Moorish influences.

Finally, the representatives noted that the project is beginning to move through the planning approval process, but since the project no longer contains any office or retail space (as it did when first proposed several years ago), there will be no Environmental Impact Report, and the developers will instead go through a combined  Mitigated Negative Declaration and Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessment (SCEA) for its required CEQA review.  Construction is planned to begin in 2020.

 

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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