City Market of LA gets new deal for retail village in Fashion District

Revised development agreement to replace arrangement tainted by Jose Huizar scandal

Councilman Kevin de León, rendering of City Market between East 9th, East 11th, San Pedro, and San Julian streets (Los Angeles Department of City Planning, Getty, kevindeleon)
Councilman Kevin de León, rendering of City Market between East 9th, East 11th, San Pedro, and San Julian streets (Los Angeles Department of City Planning, Getty, kevindeleon)

City Market of Los Angeles has moved forward with approved plans to turn three blocks in Downtown L.A.’s Fashion District into an urban-retail village with nearly 1,000 homes.

The Downtown-based former wholesale produce retailer has secured a revised development agreement with the city to build City Market Los Angeles between East 9th, East 11th, San Pedro and San Julian streets, Urbanize Los Angeles reported. 

The 1.7 million-square-foot development, approved in 2018, would replace a more than century-old produce market that closed in 2009, including 91,700-square feet of commercial buildings, according to an environmental review.

Plans for the project, in the works since 2013, include 945 homes, a 210-room hotel, a 312,000-square-foot school or office campus, 272,000 square feet of offices and 224,900 square feet of shops and restaurants, including a movie theater with 744 seats, according to its website.

City Market, which would take two decades to complete, would feature 455-foot-tall buildings of up to 38 stories, divided by courtyards and paseos across 10 acres.

The revised development agreement, approved by the City Council, calls for 94 affordable apartments, including 47 for moderate-income families and 47 for low-income households.

The revised development agreement was borne out of the city’s widespread public corruption scandal.

Although the City Council had approved the zone change and general plan amendment required for the project, the project was set back in 2020 when then-Mayor Eric Garcetti vetoed a prior version of the development agreement, according to Urbanize.

Garcetti had objected to changes to the agreement by former City Councilman Jose Huizar, since sentenced to prison for racketeering and tax evasion charges tied to Downtown developments. 

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Huizar’s plan would have redirected developer payments intended for citywide funds into the Council District 14 public benefit trust fund.

The revised agreement, introduced by Councilman Kevin de León, retains funding for initiatives in the 14th Council District, including $1.9 million for homeless health services, $1.9 million for street improvements, $1.9 million for public transportation and a $1 million contribution to the Parks Department for Pershing Square.

But instead of a $3.9 million payment into the Council District 14 affordable housing trust fund, the City Market project would set aside 10 percent of the 945 apartments as on-site affordable housing, for rent below market rate.

A timeline for City Market, estimated to cost $1 billion in 2018, is unknown. 

When the project was announced in 2013, it was expected to be completed in phases over two decades. Now 11 years later, the project has been granted a 20-year period to complete the terms of the development agreement.

The City Market of Los Angeles was founded in 1909 as the central produce distribution market for Los Angeles. The real estate investment trust now owns 17 buildings on more than 12 acres in Downtown, according to its website. 

In 2017, it opened City Market South, with offices, shops and restaurants in 75,000 square feet of converted warehouses on 2.5 acres of the original produce market at 1100 San Julian Street.

— Dana Bartholomew

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