Onni Group, one of Downtown's most prolific developers over the past five years, is advancing plans for its tallest tower yet in South Park.

The project, which would replace a surface parking lot at the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Hill Streets, is conceived as a 60-story building that would feature 700 apartments atop a podium containing 1,075 parking spaces and 15,000 square feet of retail space.  Plans call for a mix of studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments - as well as penthouses - and amenities at the podium deck.

Designed by Chris Dikeakos Architects, the proposed tower is portrayed as a contemporary glass-and-steel building, rising to a 760-foot apex.  Habitable space and residential units are planned around the perimeter of the podium structure, masking above-grade parking levels from view.

Onni Group overcame an appeal of the project last year to the Los Angeles City Planning Commission, which was opposed by the labor unions UNITE HERE Local 11 and Laborer's Union International Union of North America, Local 300, which argued that the developer had a history of converting its residential towers to hotel-like uses.  The Commission voted to deny the appeal, but did urge the developer to pursue a redesign of the tower to eliminate its flat rooftop.

In the wake of appeals and opposition, Onni has submitted the Olympic and Hill development for analysis through the Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessment (SCEA), a type of clearance which is available to high-density developments that dedicate at least 50 percent of floor area to residential uses and are located in close proximity to transit, and are thus expected to reduce vehicular travel.  A development evaluated under this framework is not subject to legal challenges in the same way as a similar project evaluated through a mitigated negative declaration.

The SCEA clearance was created by the 2008 legislation SB 375, which aims to reduce tailpipe emissions across California.  Besides Onni Group, two affordable housing developers - the Weingart Center and Thomas Safran & Associates - have recently used the SCEA framework for projects in Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood, respectively.

Construction of Olympic and Hill is expected to occur over approximately 30 months.  Its environmental study anticipates project completion in 2022.

In addition to its existing slate of Downtown towers, Onni Group is pursuing a controversial development that would replace a William Pereira-designed expansion of Times Mirror Square with more than 1,100 apartments.