Last year, Vancouver-based real estate firm Bonnis Properties began renovating the Historic Core's Merritt Building as modern office space. New renderings provided by OKB Architecture now provide a glimpse of what's to come at the 103-year-old edifice at 8th Street and Broadway.
Bonnis is renovating an existing 6,000 square feet of retail space located on the building's first floor and basement level. The Merritt's upper levels, which have been vacant since the 1980s, will offer approximately 40,000 square feet of rentable floor area upon completion of the restoration.
Under OKB's design, the roof level of the nine-story building will be reactivated as tenant amenities, with plans calling for a social lounge with a landscaped outdoor deck and a recreation center on the lower floors.
Built in 1915 by railroad Magnate Hulett C. Merritt, the property was originally envisioned as a 23-story high-rise tower that would have ranked among the tallest structures in Los Angeles at the time. After being stymied by an early 20th-century law that capped building heights at 150 feet within City limits, Merritt instead pursued an ornate mid-rise design for his namesake property, highlighted by its powerful columns and an exterior clad with Colorado Yule pure white marble - the same material that wraps the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
According to OKB, their design for the restoration is faithful to the building's original appearance.
The project is the second restoration effort that Bonnis and OKB have undertaken in Downtown Los Angeles, following the nearby Foreman & Clark Building at 7th and Hill Streets. The property, which Bonnis purchased in 2016 for $52 million, is being converted into 125 apartments with approximately 6000 square of tenant amenities throughout the building - including lounge area accompanied by a landscaped roof, gym, dance, yoga and media rooms - atop 8,500 square feet of retail space.
That project is currently scheduled for completion at the end of 2019, with the Merritt Building set to open around the same time.
After years as a shopping destination for working-class Latino families on the Eastside, the growing residential base of Downtown has led to the arrival of national retailers. Urban Outfitters and COS have repurposed former theaters as storefronts, and other retailers such as Foot Locker, the Gap, and Ross have set up shop nearby.
Neighboring buildings are also seeing revivals.
Directly across the street, a former May Company department store is being transformed by Waterbridge Capital into a mixed-use complex featuring 400,000 square feet of offices, a boutique hotel, and a food hall. Just one block west along 8th Street, the former Commercial Exchange building has now reopened as a Freehand Hotel.
- Merritt Building Archive (Urbanize LA)