Warner Center to See Thousands of New Housing Units in Three Projects
By Gregory J. Wilcox for Los Angeles Daily News; Posted 05/31/2016.
Warner Center is on the cusp of a building boom.
Preliminary work is underway on United Technologies Corp.’s massive $3 billion urban village called LA Warner Center, which includes 4,000 residential units at the former Rocketdyne site at the northwest corner of Victory Boulevard and Canoga Avenue.
And a tony, upscale high-rise apartment complex is planned on the site of the Off Broadway and former Tower Records stores on the west side of Topanga Canyon Boulevard, opposite the Village at Westfield Topanga.
Both projects are within the guidelines of the Warner Center 2035 Plan, a development template for the West San Fernando Valley community bounded by the Los Angeles River on the north, the Ventura Freeway on the south, De Soto Avenue on the east and Topanga on the West.
“We are very excited about this property,” said Shawn Evenhaim, founder and CEO of Canoga Park-based California Home Builders, which has purchased the 2.7-acre Off Broadway property at 6263 Topanga Canyon Blvd. “This is very unique because it is right across from the Village and is on Topanga. It is a component that is missing there,” Evenhaim said of the residential living option.
This is his second venture in Warner Center.
PART OF A PLAN
The Warner Center 2035 Plan, approved by the Los Angeles City Council three years ago, is intended to create a pedestrian-oriented community. The plan carved the area into eight districts — River, North Village, College, Commerce, Park, Downtown, Uptown and Topanga.
Westfield’s Village, which opened last summer in the Downtown District, is the first major component of the plan.
Now progress is being made on two others.
UTC, which hired Boston Global Investors to create a master plan for its Rocketdyne property, has submitted an environmental cleanup proposal to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Rocket engine manufacturing began at the site in 1955. The buildings contain some asbestos, and soil at the site has to be cleaned of the chemicals associated with the manufacturing process.
“Right now we are focused on doing the remediation of the site and are working to get the program approved,” said Brad Rosenheim, president and CEO of Woodland Hills-based Rosenheim & Associates, a land-use consulting firm that is also working with UTC. “Then at that stage (we will) re-engage in the master planning for the property itself.”
Rosenheim hopes the cleanup plan will be approved this summer so the company can start taking down buildings at the Rocketdyne site and start removing any contaminated soil.
SOMETHING NEW TO VALLEY
While it remains to be seen what exactly LA Warner Center will look like, what the new community will contain was revealed two years ago when Boston Global announced its plan.
It includes 3.95 million square feet of residential space, according to Boston Global’s website.
Meanwhile, Evenhaim’s California Home Builders has plans for the former Tower Records property on Topanga. The Off-Broadway shoe store is still open, and no closing date has been announced, an employee said. Evenhaim is planning an eight-story building with about 350 units. The building will have a concierge, valet parking, an Uber-type car service for residents and some live-work space.
And there is a third development on the horizon.
Evenhaim also owns 3.2 acres at the northeast corner of Variel Avenue and Erwin Street in the Warner Center College District. He is building 241 apartments on that site, and the complex will feature a restaurant. This project is going through the city’s plan-check process, and Evenhaim hopes to break ground soon.
It will have the same amenities as the Topanga property.
And both of Evenhaim’s projects will bring something new to the Valley.
“This will be a completely different lifestyle,” Evenhaim said. “It’s going to be upscale living. It will provide the lifestyle that people now have to move to the Westside to enjoy. They can’t get it in the Valley.”
While the plan lays out ambitious objectives, developers will still be held accountable, and developments will get a thorough review, said Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who represents the area.