Cul­ver City project built around tran­sit

The $300-mil­lion Ivy Sta­tion will have 200 apart­ments, of­fices and com­muter park­ing.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By Roger Vin­cent

Cul­ver City’s un­remit­ting makeover from bland sub­ur­bia to pedes­trian-friendly des­ti­na­tion with up­scale restau­rants, gas­trop­ubs and cut­ting-edge busi­nesses is pick­ing up speed with the Expo Line now zip­ping through town.

The 15-year trans­for­ma­tion has al­ready turned the for­merly in­su­lated bed­room com­mu­nity into more of an ur­ban hub, but even big­ger changes are com­ing as de­vel­op­ers stake claim on more than $1 bil­lion worth of projects that will rise close to the light-rail tracks.

That work is get­ting started with one of the re­gion’s big­gest tran­sit-re­lated projects — the $300mil­lion Ivy Sta­tion com­plex, which will house apart­ments, a ho­tel, an of­fice build­ing, shops, restau­rants and un­der­ground park­ing for commuters head­ing ei­ther to down­town Los An­ge­les or to Santa Mon­ica.

Be­cause it stands mid­way be­tween those cities where the line ter­mi­nates, its builders hope Ivy Sta­tion will be a Goldilocks hous­ing op­tion for peo­ple who find down­town and Santa Mon­ica too in­tense or too ex­pen­sive.

“We’re a lower price point for peo­ple who don’t want to live in ur­ban down­town,” said de­vel­oper Tom Wulf, “or folks who work in Santa Mon­ica.”

Wulf is se­nior vice pres­i­dent of Lowe En­ter­prises, the L.A. real es­tate com­pany that won a com­pe­ti­tion held by Cul­ver City of­fi­cials to build the 500,000-square­foot Ivy Sta­tion project on land the city as­sem­bled for re­de­vel­op­ment at Venice and Na­tional boule­vards.

It is the cen­ter­piece of a $1-bil­lion tran­sit-ori­ented clus­ter cov­er­ing about 20 acres sur­round­ing the sta­tion that Cul­ver City of­fi­cials ex­pect will take years to com­plete. Nine projects are en­ti­tled for de­vel­op­ment or are in the pipe­line, in­clud­ing an of­fice and re­tail build­ing on Wash­ing­ton Boule­vard ex­pected to house pre­mium ca­ble ser­vice HBO.

At Ivy Sta­tion, rid­ers will find 200 apart­ments for rent, a 148-room bou­tique ho­tel and a 200,000-square-foot of­fice build­ing. The com­plex will have 1,500 un­der­ground park­ing spa­ces, 300 of which will be ded­i­cated for use by Metro pas­sen­gers.

Apart­ment and of­fice rents won’t be set un­til Ivy Sta­tion is fin­ished in late 2019.

Lowe ex­pects the com­plex to be a busy waysta­tion on the Expo Line, which ar-

rived in Cul­ver City in 2012 and has got­ten busier since the line’s ex­ten­sion to Santa Mon­ica was com­pleted last year.

It now car­ries 64,000 rid­ers each week­day, ac­cord­ing to the Los An­ge­les County Met­ro­pol­i­tan Trans­porta­tion Author­ity — and Cul­ver City is en­cour­ag­ing commuters to take not just a car to the sta­tion.

“Peo­ple can ar­rive at Ivy Sta­tion by car, bike, skate­board or train,” said architect Jonathan Watts, who is re­spon­si­ble for the de­sign.

The sta­tion is also served by mul­ti­ple bus lines, and there will be a bike-shar­ing out­post and a staffed, en­closed bi­cy­cle sta­tion where nearly 400 cy­clists at a time can safely park their own two- wheel­ers or have a bike me­chanic re­pair them.

But Lowe’s win­ning con­cept en­deav­ors to es­tab­lish a new pub­lic space where peo­ple come to hang out and sa­vor the out­doors, not just rush to and from work.

“We’re cre­at­ing an ex­pe­ri­en­tial place where the com­mu­nity and tran­sit rid­ers mix,” Wulf said.

In ad­di­tion to shops and cafes with out­door din­ing, Lowe will run pro­grams and events in the pub­lic spa­ces such as dance classes, jazz per­for­mances and movie nights where shows will be pro­jected on an in­flat­able theater screen. The park­like pub­lic space could hold as many as 800 peo­ple for a con­cert.

De­sign­ing the three-level sub­ter­ranean garage was par­tic­u­larly tricky be­cause it needs to ac­com­mo­date six dif­fer­ent uses, said Watts of Santa Mon­ica-based Kille­fer Flam­mang Ar­chi­tects.

There will be ded­i­cated space for Metro rid­ers, who need to quickly get un­der­ground and into a park­ing stall. There will be spe­cial park­ing for the ho­tel valets and short- and long-term park­ing for the stores and restau­rants.

The of­fice build­ing will have its own park­ing area and an­other sec­tion will be called “guest park­ing” for peo­ple who come to the park. For big events such as con­certs, guest park­ing will ex­pand into other des­ig­nated ar­eas af­ter reg­u­lar com­mut­ing hours.

Cul­ver City planned to limit the height of Ivy Sta­tion to 45 feet, but the ar­chi­tects got ap­proval to go as high as seven sto­ries to free up more court­yard space.

“This is re­ally as much a pub­lic amenity as a pri­vate one,” Watts said. “And for the city of L.A. it’s an im­por­tant ex­am­ple of what we can do around train sta­tions.”

The name “Ivy Sta­tion” is one of the old­est relics of Cul­ver City.

An early 20th cen­tury map of the Los An­ge­les Pa­cific Co. elec­tric rail­way con­nect­ing Los An­ge­les with the coast shows a junc­tion of two lines at Ivy Park, where Cul­ver City now lies. A Mis­sion Re­vival-style elec­tri­cal sub­sta­tion was built in 1907 that con­verted al­ter­nat­ing cur­rent to di­rect cur­rent for the rail­way, and it still stands on Venice Boule­vard, where it is now used as a theater.

Cul­ver City spent more than a decade and about $43 mil­lion ac­quir­ing 39 parcels of land to put to­gether the tri­an­gu­lar 5.2-acre site for the Ivy Sta­tion project, Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Di­rec­tor Sol Blu­men­feld said.

“It used to look like To­bacco Road,” he said of the va­cant and aban­doned build­ings in the former in­dus­trial dis­trict that were razed to make way for the de­vel­op­ment. The city also un­der­wrote more than $3 mil­lion worth of struc­tural im­prove­ments to Metro’s sta­tion plat­form to fa­cil­i­tate de­vel­op­ment.

Al­though Cul­ver City was al­ways home to a prom­i­nent movie stu­dio, it was more broadly an in­dus­trial cen­ter, he said. To­day, it is emerg­ing as a des­ti­na­tion for en­ter­tain­ment-re­lated tech firms and me­dia com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing ad­ver­tis­ing soft­ware provider SteelHouse and on­line video com­pany Maker Stu­dios.

“Cul­ver City is now a cen­ter for cre­ative busi­nesses,” he said.

To Lowe’s Wulf, changes in Cul­ver City re­flect how greater Los An­ge­les is ma­tur­ing from a sprawl­ing sub­ur­ban model into a more dense, ur­ban place in many parts of the re­gion that will have the scale nec­es­sary to house the peo­ple who keep com­ing.

“There are growth pains that come with that” den­si­fi­ca­tion, Wulf said. “We’re in that tweener stage, but we can cre­ate a great ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment in sub­ur­ban lo­ca­tions.”

Kille­fer Flam­mang Ar­chi­tects

A REN­DER­ING of Ivy Sta­tion, a project planned at Venice and Na­tional boule­vards in Cul­ver City.

Kille­fer Flam­mang Ar­chi­tects

THE IVY STA­TION com­plex’s de­vel­oper ex­pects it to be a busy waysta­tion on the Expo Line, which ar­rived in Cul­ver City in 2012.

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