The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has voted in support of a proposal to redevelop and expand the Southern California Flower Market as part of a mixed-use complex.
The proposed development - slated for a nearly four-acre property bounded by 7th Street, Wall Street, and Maple Avenue - would replace a portion of the existing Flower Market - an approximately 185,000-square-foot building - with a 15-story tower featuring:
- 323 residential units - including 32 to be priced for moderate-income households;
- 64,363 square feet of office space;
- 63,785 square feet of wholesale market space;
- 4,385 square feet of retail space;
- 13,420 square feet of good and beverage space;
- 21,295 square feet of event space; and
- 681 parking spaces located in above- and below-grade levels.
The Flower Market's north building, spanning approximately 206,517 square feet, would be retained and renovated as part of the project.
Brooks + Scarpa is designing the proposed development, would include a series of ground-level pedestrian passageways cutting through the property. The main building - standing approximately 205 feet in height - would be broken into three cascading volumes, each capped by terrace decks. Plans call for an array of exterior finishes, including metal, glass, and possibly stone or precast concrete, with flower-themed murals to be painted at street level along the existing structure. Above-grade parking levels would be masked by residential units along Maple Avenue, and screened in accordance with the standards of the Downtown Design Guide along Wall Street.
Construction of the project, which was originally anticipated to cost $170 million, would occur in phases so that the operations of the market would not be displaced during the course of development. Vendors would be consolidated into the south building while the north building is being renovated, then moved back into the north building before the redevelopment of the south building would begin. Past environmental reports have estimated an approximately 36-month construction period, beginning in 2019 and concluding in 2022. An updated timeline has not been announced.
In voting to approve the project, the Planning Commission also rejected two appeals of its vesting tentative tract map.
The first was submitted by American Florists Exchange, the owner and operator of the neighboring Los Angeles Flower Market, which argued that the introduction of residents into the Flower District could create a conflict with existing industrial uses. A staff report to the Commission indicates that both flower markets are engaged in private discussions, and the appeal was filed to preserve the appellants' right to contest the project as it proceeds to the city's approval process.
A representative of American Florists Exchange noted that her client was supportive of the neighboring development, with the caveats that the project should be designed to buffer future residents from early-morning noise at the Flower Market and that vehicular access to Wall Street should be maintained during and after construction.
The second appeal, filed by the coalition of construction labor unions known as CREEDLA, argued that the project's environmental impact report does not sufficiently consider noise and air quality.
The Southern California Flower Market's history dates to 1909, when it was founded by a collective of Japanese-American flower growers at 421 S. Los Angeles Street before moving in 1912 to its current location. The age of market's existing facilities has been described as the primary impetus behind the project; a motion authored by City Councilmember Jose Huizar called the two buildings "functionally obsolete." But rather than seek a new home outside of Los Angeles city limits, the proposed development would allow for the Flower Market to be retrofitted, with appurtenant commercial uses to ensure its long-term viability.
In voting to approve the project and deny both appeals, the Commission attached conditions that the project's proposed mural would not count towards the developer's obligation to provide public art and that a portion of the parking should be made ready for electric vehicle charging. Additionally, Commissioners voted to require that all above-grade parking be fully screened from view - a condition that has been placed on several other projects that have recently gone before the body.
Project entitlements will next be considered by the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee.
The Flower Market project sits across Maple Avenue from a surface parking lot where developer Realm Group has obtained entitlements to build a 33-story apartment tower, and across 7th Street from the 649 Lofts and Flor 401 Lofts - two permanent supportive housing projects now being built by Skid Row Housing Trust.
- Southern California Flower Market (Urbanize LA)