Last month, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission gave positive feedback to the proposed adaptive reuse of the landmark Sears, Roebuck & Company Mail Order Building in Boyle Heights.
The approximately 1.7-million-square-foot complex, built in phases between 1927 and 1970, was designed by architect George C. Nimmons in the Art Deco style. The 10-to-15-story structure historically operated as a distribution hub for Sears catalog products, although operations ceased in 1992. However, a Sears retail store still occupies a portion of the building.
The property, which is now known as the Mail Order District, was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2004, and has been listed on the National Register of HIstoric Places since 2006.
Developer Izek Shomof purchased the building and the surrounding 13-acre site in 2013, with plans for an adaptive reuse projects - and potentially ground-up development. Shomof has previously converted multiple buildings in Downtown Los Angeles into apartments, and is currently in construction on a similar project in Panorama City.
Architecture firm Omgivning, which specializes in adaptive reuse projects, has been tapped to design the Sears building's revival. The existing building will see nine light courts carved into its interior, allowing for the creation of creative office space and live/work apartments above shops and restaurants.
At the first through fourth floors of the building, plans call for exhibition space, a food market and creative offices. On the fourth through tenth floors, plans call for a total of 1,030 residential units. The building's 11th floor and roof level are to be repurposed with residential amenities, including a swimming pool, laundry facilities, a basketball court, a gym and event space. The iconic tower would see its upper level converted into a penthouse residence.
The existing Sears store, which spans approximately 200,000 square feet, will remain in place.
On the surrounding parking lots, Shomof has tapped architecture firm HansonLA to design the second phase of the project: three ground-up buildings that will feature a mixture of housing, retail space and potentially a hotel.
At the corner of Soto and 12th Streets, a building known as “Supply House” will feature 250 loft apartments above 27,000 square feet of commercial uses.
Number 12, located at 12th and Rio Vista, will contain an additional 450 apartments, with 35,000 square feet of retail space and parking for over 2,000 vehicles.
At Rio Vista and Olympic Boulevard, plans call for a 120-key hotel.
In addition to ground-up and adaptive reuse development, a substantial portion of the current parking lots will be converted into open space, including a recreation lawn with numerous paseos cutting through the property.
Additionally, plans call for six railcars to be repurposed as retail space at the northeast corner of the property, a nod to the time when the historic Sears building featured a direct connection to an adjacent freight rail line.
Click here to see our walkthrough of the Mail Order District last year.
- Inside a Boyle Heights Landmark (Urbanize LA)