Citing increased construction costs, the supporters of the Korean American National Museum have dropped plans to include housing in their project, according to a motion introduced last week by Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson.
The backers of the itinerant museum, which was founded nearly 30 years ago, secured a city-owned parking lot at 6th Street and Vermont Avenue to serve as the site of its permanent home in 2012. Though KANM was initially proposed as a standalone three-story building, plans were tweaked in 2015 to couple the project with a 103-unit rental housing development, as well as a 144-car garage to serve museum patrons, residents, and surrounding businesses. The cost of that design was estimated as $35 million by the project's architect, Gruen Associates.
However, in the years since KANM's supporters elected to add housing to the museum, construction costs have skyrocketed nationwide. In Los Angeles, the cost of building climbed approximately 7.59 percent in 2017, followed by a 4.4 percent increase in 2018.
According to Wesson's motion, KANM still intends to push forward with the development of the museum without housing, but doing so will require an amendment to the organization's ground lease with the City of Los Angeles. The motion to initiate amend the agreement has been referred to the City Council's Information, Technology, and General Services Committee for consideration.
While KANM continues to search for a path forward, other projects in Koreatown are forging ahead. At the opposite corner of 6th and Vermont, Trammell Crow Company is now building a $300-million office tower that will serve as the new headquarters of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. The 20-story high-rise is part of the larger Vermont Corridor Project, which also includes a ground-up affordable housing development and the adaptive reuse of the Department of Mental Health's existing headquarters.
Adjacent to KANM, a Denny's restaurant is also slated to be redeveloped with a 33-story hotel and residential tower.
- Korean American National Museum (Urbanize LA)