To close out 2022, we held our second annual round of year end polls, asking you - faithful reader - to decide the biggest stories of 2022. You chose from bus lanes, bike lanes, skyscrapers, and more nebulous entries that didn't fit neatly into any one category. Here's what you said:
In the big transportation category, it wasn't all that close - the runaway winner was Metro's K Line, which finally made its debut this year after three years of delay. Of course, the final story of the K Line has yet to be written - the final leg of the project has yet to open, with work still underway on a $900-million stop which will connect with the new LAX people mover system, and another hiccup could be coming if and when that Centinela Avenue grade separation project begins work in Inglewood. And of course, there's that northern extension to Hollywood that's on the horizon.
Still, for the time being, it's a pleasant trip between Expo/Crenshaw Station and Westchester for the time being, with clean, understated stations and a relatively quick trip due to the substantial grade separation along the route. If you haven't tried it out yet, you should!
A distant second place finisher in the big transportation category was the Sixth Street Viaduct, which is finally open after its own three-year delay. Spanning across the L.A. River between Downtown and Boyle Heights, city leaders hope that the viaduct could one day be L.A.'s version of the Brooklyn Bridge. Time will tell if it that comes to pass, but with a new Metro stop planned next door, 13 acres of park space set to break ground underneath, and lots of development in the works nearby, it certainly seems like something big is happening.
Among the transportation projects that didn't have nine- and ten-figure price tags, the long-awaited makeover of the 7th Street corridor through Downtown Los Angeles won in a photo finish. Currently under construction, the project will upgrade existing protected bike lanes by adding new concrete medians and transit islands, as well as new street trees, furniture, and lighting. It's perhaps the key lynchpin in Downtown's gradually improving bike lane network, intersecting with north-south lanes along Figueroa Street, Olive Street, Grand Avenue, Spring Street, and Main Street - plus San Pedro Street at some point in the future.
Not far behind was Venice Boulevard's multi-modal makeover, which is also in progress on the Westside. The project will add 2.5 miles of bus-only lanes to the key east-west street between Inglewood and Culver Boulevards - an important stretch which connects with the Culver City Metro Station. Likewise, new protected bike lanes will eventually span the full segment of Venice between Lincoln Boulevard to the west and National Boulevard to the east, building off of existing improvements in the Mar Vista area.
After three days of voting, the runaway winner in the best groundbreaking of 2022 category was none other than LaTerra Development's massive apartment complex now underway at 777 N. Front Street in Burbank. Planned just north of Burbank's Metrolink station, the project includes a series of podium-type buildings that will feature 573 apartments. Entitlements also allow for a hotel. The project may be a sign of things to come in Burbank, which is planning for a lot of growth in its Downtown neighborhood.
Coming in second was Onni Group's new high-rise at the intersection of Olympic and Hill in Downtown Los Angeles. The 60-story building is set to feature 700 apartments above ground-floor retail and parking - with the notable distinction of a parking podium that is to be fully enclosed by residential units. Take that, Watermarke.
Besides being the first high-rise to start work since the onset of the pandemic, the tower is also notable for its height. Set to rise 760 feet, the project would be the 4th tallest building in Los Angeles if completed today.
In our final category of the year, plans for a high-rise redevelopment of the Toyota of Hollywood site came in first, according to our readers. The Sullivan family, which owns the dealership, filed plans with the City of Los Angeles this year to redevelop the site with a mixed-use project featuring a 350 apartments, 136,000 square feet of offices, and nearly 24,000 square feet of retail space. The centerpiece of the project is a 35-story tower which would be one of the tallest in Hollywood.
The second place finisher, developer Leo Pustilnikov's plans for the AES power plant site in Redondo Beach, would bring more than 2,300 homes, a hotel, offices, and open space to the 50-acre property near the waterfront. But the project is perhaps more notable for highlighting the potential of the "Builder's Remedy," in Southern California. Thanks to state-level housing legislation, cities and other jurisdictions with non-compliant housing elements are temporarily unable to reject applications for certain types of residential developments. And in the case of development-averse Redondo Beach, it's safe to say this would never have made it through the door had it not been for that.
The Redondo Beach project also set the stage for our third place finisher - the combined barrage of builder's remedy projects which hit the City of Santa Monica this year. In the case of Santa Monica, another city with a notoriously high barrier to entry, developers went nuts, proposing more than 4,000 residential units in buildings ranging up to 15 stories tall. There may be a legal challenge in the works, but depending on how it all shakes out, the builder's remedy may have made a lasting impact in one of L.A.'s submarkets.