Here are 7 new developments helping shape the new Koreatown
LA has a building problem. But not in Ktown.
For years Greater L.A. has failed to build enough housing. The metro’s inventory shortage, recently estimated at nearly 400,000 units, both underlies its astronomical cost of living and contributes to multiple related crises — rampant homelessness, a thinning middle class, even notorious gridlock and air pollution.
But one neighborhood, in particular, is bucking the trend. Koreatown, a nearly three-square-mile area that benefits from a central location — south of Hollywood and between Downtown L.A. and the city’s prosperous west side — was founded in the early 20th century, when Korean laborers and rail workers first arrived in a growing L.A. But it really took off in the 1960s, when a wave of new immigrants helped establish it as a major commerce center, and the largest Korean enclave outside of Asia.
In the past decade L.A.’s Ktown has also cemented its status both as a bustling nightlife and entertainment district, as well as a major residential area, with a current population of around 120,000. It’s been growing fast, with a surfeit of new high-rises, mostly aimed at young professionals, that are helping transform Ktown into one of the most urban, densely populated neighborhoods on the West Coast. Plenty of sleek new towers have opened in just the past couple years, including from neighborhood giant Jamison Properties, and plenty more are on their way.
Here’s a closer look at seven key projects in the pipeline:
“Terrace Block” (550 Shatto Place) | Townline and Forme Development | 241,000 square feet
In the greener, quieter section of Koreatown east of Vermont Avenue, on a street that includes both the Chinese Consulate and the beloved study spot Café Mak, the Canadian firms Townline and Forme Development are partnering to put up Koreatown’s new tallest building. The skyscraper, which features a geometrical pattern exterior design, will rise 40 stories — or 483 feet, about 30 feet taller than the Equitable Life Building on Wilshire, which went up in 1969. Terrace Block will have 367 units, along with ground floor office and retail space, and could be completed in 2025. The site has been occupied by a 1930s-era church and surface parking.
“Hallasan” (696 South New Hampshire Avenue) | Holland Partner Group | 300,000 square feet
This sleek-looking, glass-heavy, very tall project comes from Holland Partner Group, a multifamily developer based in Vancouver, Washington that’s built apartments throughout the Western United States. Hallasan, the firm’s 38-story Ktown complex, is located just off the busy Vermont Avenue/Wilshire intersection and includes a total of 375 apartments and 3,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space. It also has a stylish rooftop deck and an eight-story parking garage at its base, for residents who don’t want to use the metro station a block away.
This build is nearly complete; leasing at the amenity-loaded “crown jewel of Koreatown” will begin this spring, Holland Partner Group says.
3545 Wilshire Boulevard | Jamison | 495,000 square feet
It’s hard to come up with a project that’s more representative of the neighborhood’s high-density transformation than this. 3545 Wilshire, yet another Jamison endeavor, ranks among the largest construction projects anywhere in SoCal, stretching for an entire block in the heart of Ktown. The south end of the site is located across from the Wilshire/Normandie metro station, and the north end connects to busy 6th Street. (It also happens to be a stone’s throw from the H Mart-anchored City Center on 6th shopping plaza, another Jamison property.)
The project consists of two separate residential towers, one 22 stories and the other 14 stories, connected by a multi-story “parking and retail podium.” The two towers will total 428 residential units, or 485,000 square feet, and the project also includes 10,000 square feet of retail. After demolishing one 1950s-built commercial building, Jamison broke ground about a year ago, and the towers have already risen. One estimate put the completion date in early 2024.
“Western Station” (808 South Western Avenue) | Jamison | 198,000 square feet
Another Jamison project, this one at the western edge of Koreatown, isn’t the neighborhood’s largest in the pipeline but it is somewhat unusual: The T-shaped structure will include one larger wing, an eight-story structure with 230 apartments, that connects by a pedestrian bridge to a four-story component with retail, parking and a rooftop amenity deck.
The idea behind the shorter component is to incorporate the Pellissier Square Garage, a historic Art Deco-structure that was built in the early 1930s as parking for the adjacent Wiltern Theatre. “We’re trying to make it look like the two got married,” the architect Keith McCloskey, who designed the complex, previously told the L.A. Times, “a fusion of new and old.” The project is located near the Wilshire/Western metro station and is well underway, although Jamison currently lists no completion estimate.
“The Parks in LA” (3431 West 8th Street) | Charles Parks & Associates | 294,000 square feet
This build is in early stages — a recent visit to the site revealed that the existing commercial building was still in place, with some businesses vacant and others still operating — but will add a major new mixed-use tower to the currently leafy, quiet area around West 8th Street and South Harvard Boulevard. The developer plans an eight-story, 89-foot high mixed-use project with 251 total units and the usual high-end amenities (pool, jacuzzi, fire pit). Charles Parks & Associates also plans offices, a ground-floor food hall, and a central courtyard that will be open to the public. Construction will start this year, according to a project architect page.
3020 Wilshire Boulevard | Jamison | 254,000 square feet
A few blocks east of the Wilshire/Vermont intersection, not far from MacArthur Park, Jamison is developing an eight-story mixed-use building that’s slated to have 262 units and ground floor retail. The complex will come with private balconies and hundreds of underground and above-ground parking spaces; unlike many new Ktown projects, it’s not relying on density bonus incentives, such as the city’s popular Transit Oriented Communities designation, and will be exclusively market rate. The project — which will rise near several other new multifamily buildings — effectively contributes to the new Ktown’s eastern expansion.
“Sage” (200 North Vermont Avenue) | Jamison | 445,000 square feet
This Jamison project isn’t tall, at only six stories, but it sure is big. Construction has already started on Sage, a complex that will include 490 total units, including some designated for affordable housing, above ground floor retail. Renderings show a mostly gray and white exterior, with tan accents; the complex will also include a central courtyard that divides the huge building into two sections. It’s located at the northern edge of Ktown, near the Vermont/Beverly metro station — a somewhat grittier area that’s recently seen its own surge in new multifamily development.
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