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4 developers competing to build at Little Tokyo subway station

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Metro plans to pick one developer by early next year

Last year, Metro went looking for a development partner to build along First Street between Central and Alameda, where there’s currently a construction pit for the Regional Connector. Four developers’ proposals were selected to be presented at a community open house last week.

The developers’ plans, first seen on Urbanize LA, were all based on community feedback on what residents would like to see on the Little Tokyo site—retail and public space were high on the list; housing was not. The resulting proposals include community open space, shops, parking, and eateries.

Metro will evaluate the projects and expects to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with the highest scoring proposal in early 2020. Once the agreement is signed, that developer will do another round of community outreach to fine-tune its proposed project. The Regional Connector is expected to open in 2022.

A rendering of a five-story building on a corner with people walking around.
Little Tokyo Service Center

Little Tokyo Service Center

As the name indicates, the Little Tokyo Service Center is based in the neighborhood. Its plan for this site, designed by FSY Architects, includes a mobility hub, a visitor center, retail and gallery space, restaurants, and a community pavilion. The five-story complex would be topped with a multi-level automated parking structure.

The organization is also developing a community center, the Budokan, in Little Tokyo and has partnered with Metro to build affordable housing over the Vermont/Santa Monica Red Line station in East Hollywood.

A black and white rendering of a five-story structure on a corner.
Centre Urban Real Estate Partners

Centre Urban Real Estate Partners

Also based in Little Tokyo, Centre Urban Real Estate Partners’ plan would bring 20,000 square feet of office space, 18,000 square feet of eateries, a “destination restaurant,” a mobility hub, a landscaped public plaza, and a rooftop event space to the busy corner. Design of the five-story project would be by Stantec and Kritzinger and Rao.

A rendering of a glassy 17-story tower.
Kaji & Associates

Kaji and Associates

Designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates, the Kaji and Associates’ project is by far the tallest proposed at 17 stories. The proposed development includes a 180-room hotel, gallery space, and commercial condominiums that would be offered up for sale, with first dibs going to long-time Little Tokyo businesses, Urbanize says. The development is called Ekibashi, or station bridge, in presentation documents.

A rendering of a seven-story structure fronted by a Metro subway station portal.
Innovative Housing Opportunities

Innovative Housing Opportunities

Innovative Housing Opportunities plans a seven-story structure over the station with a plaza, retail and restaurants, and space for art galleries. It is the only proposal to include affordable housing in its project, which is designed by Dahlin.