A primary retail center is now within sight for residents of Playa Vista.
Since the first phase of homes opened nearly a decade ago, the planned community has offered a limited selection of restaurants and shops for residents and local community members to take care of more basic needs. But the community that is home to thousands of residents has lacked a central shopping area providing for wide ranging services such as grocery shopping and entertainment.
Such a destination had been in the works for years but plans were stalled after legal challenges halted the second phase of homes and commercial properties at Playa Vista from moving forward.
That was until the California Supreme Court recently declined to hear the legal challenge to the 111-acre Village at Playa Vista, opening the path to initiate the second and final phase of the planned community.
Playa Vista officials have announced that the first component of the Village to be constructed will be the mixed-use commercial and social center known as Runway at Playa Vista. The complex, which will be built on the site of the former runway of aviation mogul Howard Hughes’ aerospace company, will feature a 200,000-square foot shopping center, 420 apartments and 25,000 square feet of office space.
The real estate firm Lincoln Property Company has purchased 14 acres to develop the center, with partners Phoenix Property Company and Paragon Commercial Group.
“We are delighted to finally be able to build not only the Runway but the Village at Playa Vista in its entirety,” said Patti Sinclair, co-president of Playa Capital Company, the developer of Playa Vista. “The Playa Vista community has been waiting quite a while for the retail center and we have confidence that the Lincoln team, with Phoenix and Paragon, will do a great job.”
Including the Runway project, the Village portion will consist of 2,600 residential units, including 200 units for senior/assisted living, 50,000 square feet of office space, 40,000 square feet of community-serving space, 11.5 acres of parks and another 12 acres of open space. All of the retail amenities will be located at the Runway complex.
David Binswanger, executive vice president of Lincoln, noted that his company has been building in the commercial campus since 2006 and, they too, are eager to bring additional retail offerings to Playa Vista.
“When we bought our first parcel of land in the commercial campus part of what we anticipated having was not only the additional housing but the mixed-use amenity,” Binswanger said. “This is much overdue for the residents of Playa Vista and the greater community as well, and we are very excited to bring this on line.”
Rex Frankel, who was part of the group that continued to challenge Playa Vista Phase II in the courts, was disappointed in the high court’s decision to not take the case, noting that opponents were successful in overturning the project in 2007. While developers have been given the go-ahead to complete the Village, Frankel took pride that opponents’ efforts helped scale back Playa Vista’s original plans to 6,100 condominiums and preserve nearly 700 acres as wetlands, wildlife habitat and parks.
“A project that was seen as a ‘done deal’ has been made a lot less offensive through our work and that of our partners,” Frankel said.
Sinclair pointed out that the existing businesses near Concert Park, which include restaurants, a bank, coffee shop and dry cleaner, have provided some services but the area is not large enough to cover broader needs. The new retail complex will have a mix of tenants including a grocery store, restaurants and cafes, clothing stores, a pharmacy and movie theater. The site is designed to reflect the Southern California coastal culture.
“The goal has always been to create a retail amenity for the community that could provide not only quick daily needs but a broader scale of retail, convenience services and entertainment opportunities,” Sinclair said. “Our vision is that this project becomes the heart of the community in terms of a place for people to meet, hang out and have an evening out, with the beach flavor and feel.”
Aside from the shopping area, Runway will include open spaces and landscaped walkways.
Playa Vista has become home to a growing list of Internet and entertainment companies, including Facebook and Electronic Arts. YouTube and Earthbound Media Group have signed on to become the first tenants at the Hercules Campus, which includes the historic hangar where Hughes built his giant Spruce Goose aircraft and stages where “Avatar” and “Iron Man 3” have filmed.
Sinclair and Binswanger envision Runway becoming not only a gathering spot for Playa Vista residents and surrounding creative office employees, but a place where residents from nearby communities will seek the amenities.
Other plans for the Village include a supplemental community center with additional gym space and a pool, a sports park with additional play fields to complement the fields in Phase I, as well as a landscaped promenade to the new retail center, Sinclair said.
Officials hope to begin construction on Runway in June, with completion estimated in 2014.