West Hollywood Design District Boom UnderwayDate: 06.30.2015
West Hollywood (WeHo to those who love it and live it) has always had character. From colorful people enjoying a stroll to long standing businesses and hotspots that defined a community, this part of town was never one to play the wallflower or be anything generic. This year, as West Hollywood turns the big 3-0 (gasp!), the place many refer to as an “urban village” will be coming into its own with additions that are sure to secure its vibrant, unique style and stellar track record of profitability.
Just a stone’s throw away from HQ Creative Office’s La Peer property, a new development will be making a splash with a high profile project that will reinvigorate the local area. Early on, HQ Creative Office took a bold stand by establishing a presence on LaPeer Drive, which was still rather desolate. Now, the property will peer directly through the pedestrian thoroughfare of a major retail development. Faring Capital’s new project, Robertson Lane, will promote cross-pollination of pedestrian traffic from Robertson Boulevard to the local surroundings. Starting at Pacific Design Center in the east, on through West Hollywood Park, to the bustle of Robertson Lane, and ending up at Melrose Triangle. Robertson Lane will replace the The Factory, the iconic nightclub building that sits between Robertson Boulevard and LaPeer Drive south of Santa Monica Boulevard. Originally, the site was a real factory that manufactured motion picture cameras. Later, it was converted into a nightclub space in 1967. Its most recent incarnation was Studio One, which has housed numerous successful venues, and became a cultural emblem in the hearts of locals. Robertson Lane will go a long way in unifying the separate hubs of WeHo – the Sunset Strip, Melrose Place, and Robertson Boulevard. Designed by Hodgetts+Fung architecture firm, it will feature a hotel with more than 250 rooms, underground parking with more than 1,000 spaces, and a plethora of cafes and small retail spaces that are decidedly not generic. Its most dramatic impact will result from a 35 foot open lane cutting through the property, which gives people walking on Robertson Boulevard or LaPeer Drive a visual invitation to explore what lies on the other side. If natural urban trends continue, the upscale shops (Christian Louboutin, Phillip Lim and Phyllis Morris), restaurants (Sur, Tortilla Republic, Hedley’s) and nightclubs (The Abbey, Here Lounge, P.U.M.P) on Robertson will soon be flanked by new distinctive businesses and locales on LaPeer. Far from becoming a caricature of itself, WeHo at 30 is channeling the free energy of its earlier years into a dramatically intriguing way to find out what it means to be here, live here, create here.
Happenings on the Horizon
West Hollywood Design District (WHDD) is a touchstone for cultural cues in high-caliber design, art, fashion, dining, beauty and more. Trends are born along these streets. People with big ideas flock here. We are excited to be in the center of all the action; we welcome change and reinvention! Hodgetts+Fung, the architects behind Robertson Lane, will also be teaming up with the Charles Company (as in, Charles Cohen, owner of the Pacific Design Center). West of LaPeer and stretching to Doheny will be the Melrose Triangle Project, featuring four stories of glass panels that will glow at night, ushering people from Beverly Hills into West Hollywood. (Cohen is also negotiating on the other end to turn an MTA bus depot adjacent to the PDC into a shopping plaza.) H+F has another project in the pipeline for the area, one of the largest developments in West Hollywood’s history, which will be a multi-use building on Sunset Boulevard north of La Cienega. Another proposed development from Faring Capital at 8818 Beverly Blvd. at North Clark Drive is currently in the review process. On a lot that currently houses Poliform, the furniture retailer, it would be five stories high. The building would include 9,000 square feet of retail space and a 2,000-square-foot restaurant on the first floor. The second and third floors will include 26,000 square feet of office space. Like HQ Creative Office, other developers are seeing a growing demand for more office space in West Hollywood, especially given plans to convert much of the office space in the former ICM building at 8899 Beverly Blvd. into residential units. City planners also are reviewing a plan to build 50 condos at 702 Doheny Dr. at Harland on land now occupied by two single-family houses. An additional construction, approved back in 2009, will be good news for would-be visitors to West Hollywood. Work on the La Peer Hotel is imminent, replacing a public parking lot currently leased by the city. It is being undertaken by the company 623 La Peer LLC. Finally, carrying on the favorite urban village pastime of eating, drinking, and being merry, several recent openings add delightful flavor to our neighborhood. Actress Jessica Biel has brought us Au Fudge, an organic restaurant and bakery, in May, located at 9010 Melrose Ave. Judging from early previews, some of the showstopper dishes (both sweet and savory) are inspired by the rainbow. Another spot definitely worth visiting is Gracias Madre, a critically acclaimed interpretation of Mexican cuisine brought over from San Francisco’s Mission District in January 2014. Just steps away on 8925 Melrose Ave., Verve Coffee Roasters will open one of three additional LA locations by the end of the year. The original is based in Santa Cruz and has just the kind of community conscious establishment credentials that are sure to appeal to West Hollywood crowds. If any place knows how to sizzle with life, it’s West Hollywood. With HQ Creative Office taking up an early presence on LaPeer, additional new developments are supplying even more fresh blood to the area, in grand style and with bold flavors. WeHo, we heart you. Welcome to the neighborhood, everybody!