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JUNE 24, 2019



The Aliso Takes Root In the Arts District Massive Development With 472 Apartments Adds to Momentum in the Community

The five-building Aliso, from Legendary Development and Fairfield Residential, adds 472 apartments to the Arts District. They are arranged in five buildings placed around a central courtyard.

photo by Gary Leonard

By Nicholas Slayton n recent years a lot of attention has focused on the Arts District, as the once sleepy neighborhood has attracted a slew of housing, cultural and culinary projects. But almost everything that has come online in the past decade pales in comparison to The Aliso, a five-building complex at Third Street and Santa Fe Avenue that has 472 apartments. Coincidentally or not, that time period — a decade — is almost as long as the developer has been trying to get the project built.


The massive effort comes from Legendary Development, which initiated the project, and its partner Fairfield Residential. Move-ins began in February at the complex at 950 E. First St., on six acres adjacent to the SCI-Arc campus and across Third Street from the Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles gallery. Designed by Kava Massih Architects, the buildings are now all open. The project is currently about 14% leased. Dilip Bhavnani, managing partner with Legendary Development, would not disclose the full budget for The Aliso, but ac-

knowledged that costs went $21.5 million over the initial plan (an early figure had the price tag at $215 million). He said this resulted from changes the development team made to suit the wave of people moving in to work in the creative and tech industries opening at the eastern edge of Downtown. Legendary acquired the site in 2010 after a previous owner’s plan to build condominiums fell apart in the recession. Legendary presented its initial plans a year later, faced community backlash over a design that included a faux brick exterior and a new alley for cars, then went back to the drawing board. The project broke ground in early 2016. Bhavnani, who is also working on an office tower adjacent to the A+D Museum in the Arts District, said that as the Arts District changed, so too did The Aliso. The biggest shift involved adding amenities. “When we looked at the area, from start to finish, we made a lot of upgrades along the way,” he said on a recent tour of the project. “We understand that things have changed in the Arts District and that people want a higher level of experience.” Community Impact The buildings, which are all five or six stories, are arranged in an oval pattern around a central courtyard. The largest building, on the west side of the project, houses The Aliso’s amenities including a pool deck. On the east side of the site, adjacent to SCI-Arc, a paved paseo links Third Street to Traction Avenue. This allows direct access to the nearby street, rather than the roundabout routes people would need to walk between them. The paseo was added after the community outcry, replacing a path planned for vehicular use. Miguel Vargas, executive director of the Arts District Business Improvement District, expects the project to have a major impact on the community, as it is the first large-scale development to open in about three years. The most recent similar additions were the nearby One Santa Fe, which has 438 apartments and opened in 2016, and the Garey Building, a 320-unit project that debuted in 2016 at 905 E. Second St. “With just the size of this project, people are going to feel the Continued on page 11

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