In 1923, the Catalina Swimwear Company opened its new headquarters at San Pedro and Winston Streets, on the southern perimeter of what is now Little Tokyo. The six-story Neoclassical building was the first major commission for the independent practice of architect William Douglas Lee, who would go on to design the Chateau Marmont hotel and the El Royale apartments.
However, without the landmark status enjoyed by those later commissions, the Catalina Swimwear Building gradually fell into disrepair. After its namesake tenant vacated the premises, the building was occupied by a series of industrial tenants and wholesale retailers. A series of mid-20th century modifications to the building's exterior covered up portions of its ornate facade to allow for the installation of signage.
Now, after being forgotten for decades, the 93-year-old building is poised for a return to its past glory.
In March, the vintage manufacturing center was purchased for $20.5 million by Statewide Aquisitions Corp., a Newport Beach-based investment firm. The company has rebranded the property as the Catalina, and plans to invest an additional $11 million to convert the building into a mixed-use complex consisting of 78 live-work lofts and 7,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.
The adaptive reuse project, designed by the architecture firm Omgivning, will restore the Catalina's original terra cotta exterior and add a vertical blade sign along its corner. Various design features planned for the west facade allude to the building's history, including a mural of a Catalina Swimwear pinup girl and an original loading dock that would be repurposed as a garden entryway.
Due to its location, the developer expects that the building's panoramic view of the Downtown skyline will become a major selling point for future tenants. Accordingly, plans call for 14 penthouse units on its sixth floor, including 12 units with private roof decks. For non-penthouse tenants, the building's roof would still be accessible via an amenity deck consisting of a common area, a glass-enclosed fitness center, a barbeque pit and water features.
Currently, Statewide is in the process of pursuing various administrative sign-offs, including a historic landmark status for the property. Construction is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2016 and finish in 2018.
- The Catalina (Official Website)