Not All Roses

L.A.'s Flower Market redevelopment by Brooks + Scarpa is moving forward

Brooks + Scarpa Architects has designed a new vision for the Southern California Flower Market, one that was recently approved by the Los Angeles city planning commssion. (Rendering Courtesy Brooks + Scarpa)

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has okayed the redevelopment of the city’s Southern California Flower Market by local firm Brooks + Scarpa Architects.

The most significant changes to the four-acre plot include the addition of a 15-story tower that will cut into the existing flower market building. The 205-foot tower is segmented into three areas that will each be topped with a roof deck. It will house over 300 residential units and almost 64,000 square feet for the wholesale market.

Brooks + Scarpa is weaving pedestrian walks throughout the property and adding flower murals to the street levels to thematically unify the development. It’s L.A., so of course, there will be parking, almost 700 spaces total. The asphalt expanse will be hidden by apartments on the Maple Avenue side, and screened in along Wall Street, per the city’s Downtown Design Guide.

Construction on the $170 million project is expected to begin this year and extend through 2022. To keep the market open, vendors will be moved twice, once into the south building and again to the north building while each respective structure is renovated.

Rendering of building development with flower market at base

The construction of the large-scale development has attracted controversy over potential issues with noise and air quality. (Rendering Courtesy Brooks + Scarpa Architects)

The proposed development, slated for a nearly four-acre property bounded by 7th Street, Wall Street, and Maple Avenue, would replace a portion of the existing Flower Market—an approximately 185,000-square-foot building—with a mixed-use 15-story tower featuring:

  • 323 residential units, including 32 to be priced for moderate-income households
  • 64,363 square feet of office space
  • 63,785 square feet of wholesale market space
  • 4,385 square feet of retail space
  • 13,420 square feet of good and beverage space
  • 21,295 square feet of event space
  • 681 parking spaces located in above- and below-grade levels

The Flower Market’s north building, spanning approximately 206,517 square feet, will be retained and renovated as part of the project.

Rendering looking towards downtown LA of multi-level development with below-grade plaza

It would feature multiple levels of retail and office space. (Rendering Courtesy Brooks + Scarpa)

Brooks + Scarpa will include a series of ground-level pedestrian passageways cutting through the property. The main tower would be broken into three cascading volumes, each capped by terrace decks. Plans also call for an array of exterior finishes including metal, glass, and possibly stone or precast concrete. Above-grade parking levels would be masked by residential units along Maple Avenue and screened, in accordance with the standards of the Downtown Design Guide along Wall Street.

Rendering of street next to flower mural and trees

The renovated concrete building will be overlayed with flower-themed murals signaling the district’s presence. (Rendering Courtesy Brooks + Scarpa)

In voting to approve the project, the Planning Commission also rejected two appeals of its vesting tentative tract map. The first was submitted by American Florists Exchange, the owner and operator of the neighboring Los Angeles Flower Market, which argued that the introduction of residents into the Flower District could create a conflict with existing industrial uses. A staff report to the Commission indicates that both flower markets are engaged in private discussions and the appeal was filed to preserve the appellants’ right to contest the project as it proceeds to the city’s approval process.

A representative of American Florists Exchange noted that her client was supportive of the neighboring development, with the caveats that the project should be designed to buffer future residents from early-morning noise at the Flower Market and that vehicular access to Wall Street should be maintained during and after construction. The second appeal, filed by the coalition of construction labor unions known as CREEDLA, argued that the project’s environmental impact report does not sufficiently consider noise and air quality.

Diagram of development breakdown (Courtesy Brooks + Scarpa)

Diagram of development breakdown (Courtesy Brooks + Scarpa)

The Southern California Flower Market’s history dates to 1909, when it was founded by a collective of Japanese-American flower growers at 421 S. Los Angeles Street, before moving to its current location in 1912. The age of the market’s existing facilities has been described as the primary impetus behind the project; a motion authored by City Councilmember Jose Huizar called the two buildings “functionally obsolete.” But rather than seek a new home outside of Los Angeles city limits, the proposed development would allow for the Flower Market to be retrofitted, with pertinent commercial uses to ensure its long-term viability.

In voting to approve the project and deny both appeals, the Commission attached conditions that the project’s proposed mural would not count towards the developer’s obligation to provide public art and that a portion of the parking should be made ready for electric vehicle charging. Additionally, Commissioners voted to require that all above-grade parking be fully screened from view—a condition that has been placed on several other projects that have recently gone before the body. Project entitlements will next be considered by the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee.

The Flower Market project sits across Maple Avenue from a surface parking lot where developer Realm Group has obtained entitlements to build a 33-story apartment tower and across 7th Street from the 649 Lofts and Flor 401 Lofts—two permanent supportive housing projects now being built by Skid Row Housing Trust.

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