Plans to build a data center near Whole Foods Market and Bottega Louie in Downtown Los Angeles are moving forward, with the release of an initial study for the project.

The project from Austin-based Digital Realty, which first emerged in early 2023, would rise from an approximately 39,000-square-foot mid-block site located at 727-737 S. Grand Avenue, replacing a parking structure. Plans call for a new 13-story building which would house computer servers and a small amount of office space on its upper levels, with parking located on the second and third floors.

View looking northwest from Grand AvenueOfficeUntitled

No windows are planned for the nearly 280-foot-tall building, as is typical with data centers. However, the design by OfficeUntitled aims to make up for that with an undulating facade which would avoid placing blank walls along Grand Avenue and other frontages.

"To ensure this lack of windows does not result in a monolith out of character the active and vibrant vision for Downtown Los Angeles proposed by the Community Plan, the façade of the building will be comprised of a playful system of angled panels that create a striking articulation on the building's skin," reads a social media post explaining the design. "By playing with light, shadow, reflectivity, and form, this dynamic architectural skin will change throughout the day and year, striking a unique balance between solidity and ephemerality."

Street-level view from across Grand AvenueOfficeUntitled

Although it may not be obvious to passersby, Downtown is already home to several data centers. Older commercial buildings nearby already serve that purpose, including the historic J. W. Robinson Co. department store to the north at 7th Street and the One Wilshire high-rise  at 624 S. Grand Avenue. A mile and a half to the northeast, the former Post Office Annex near Union Station has been converted into a data center, and  newly built facility recently replaced an adjacent surface parking lot.

Digital Realty's proposed addition to the growing cluster of Downtown data centers is currently on track to commence work in 2025, according to the initial study. Work would be completed roughly 18 months afterward, if all things go to plan.

Rendering of the proposed data center adjacent to Park Terrace towerOfficeUntitled

One factor which may complicate the path forward for the 727 Grand project is a neighboring project to the south at 754 S. Hope Street. At that location, Mitsui Fudosan America is pursuing entitlements for a new 50-story, 580-unit residential tower which would replace a parking lot and garage. Digital Realty had opposed the project at its City Planning Commission hearing earlier this year, arguing that tower spacing requirements would force a redesign of the data center. However, the Commission declined to grant an appeal which sought to set aside entitlements for the residential tower.

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