Beloved DTLA arts venue The Smell set for demolition amid development boom

Landlord L&R is taking on a handful of large mixed-use developments in nabe

May.May 31, 2016 12:00 PM

A well-known punk institution has been lost to Downtown L.A.’s property gold rush.

DIY venue The Smell, which has long hosted avant garde performers, received notice last week that it may soon be demolished — along with every other structure on the DTLA block — in what’s likely a signal of another big development coming to the neighborhood. The property’s owner, L&R Group of Companies, is slowly expanding its portfolio beyond its niche as a parking lot operator as it takes on a handful of large mixed-use developments in Downtown L.A.

L&R, which also owns Joe’s Auto Parks and WallyPark next door, filed an application to demolish about half of the block along Main Street between Second and Third Streets.  The other buildings include the Five Star Bar, the Downtown Independent movie theater, gay bar New Jalisco Bar, and the Shish Kabob restaurant.

Jim Smith, owner of The Smell, told LAist that he had no idea of L&R’s plans until Friday night. The demolition notice was posted on the doors of the respective properties and Smith uploaded a photo of the notice onto Facebook.

“Provided that the submitted plans comply with all Los Angeles municipal codes, public comment will have no impact on this project,” the notice said.

According to city protocol, a demolition permit is usually issued 30 days after such notice is posted. L&R could not be immediately reached for comment.

“I suppose the signs have been there for many years, but I’ve suspected something like this was coming when our building was sold a year ago,” Smith told LAist. “I plan to do whatever I can to fight or delay this.”

L&R, an L.A.-based company, owns at least 72 properties across the U.S., including parking lots. In the heart of DTLA alone, the firm owns two office buildings and a warehouse between Broadway and South Main Street, as well as two South Park sites that are developments in the works.

L&R recently partnered with developer Geoff Palmer on plans to bring a 10-story, 439-unit apartment building to a parking lot site the company owns just north of Olympic Boulevard.

Over in South Park, L&R’s lot at 1200 South Figueroa Street — directly across from the Staples Center — is being transformed into a mixed-use development spearheaded by Jamison Services, according to CoStar. The project, called Circa, comprises a pair of 36-story towers with 648 luxury condos and over 40,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and restaurant space. L&R also owns two more properties on Figueroa Street, including a mixed-use redevelopment at 845 South Figueroa Street and a 60,000-square-foot site at 1600 South Figueroa Street.


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