‘Gimme Shelter’ with Daniel Gehman: Same-Day GB/GO–Feels Like Good Times

With unemployment dropping, money finally becoming available, and construction remaining on sale, there’s a window of opportunity in the multifamily space unlike anything we’ve seen in a while.

As architects, we like to celebrate the little things that color our experience, like ground breakings and grand openings. For us, the former represents a welcome birth after a typically long and challenging pregnancy, and the other, I suppose, is like a debutante ball. Now, to have both occur on the same day is a rare and exquisite delight.

Not for the same project, of course. (That happens only on reality TV.) But just the same, the layering of these two seminal events in one “shift” is a pretty remarkable event.

Our special moment is hemmed by two Los Angeles projects. This morning, gold shovels in hand, the developer, the district City Council member and key team players (including one of my partners) turned over a bit of specially staged dirt with the cameras clicking away. As the developer mentioned, planning and design for the project had started way back in 2004, so the excitement about finally being able to begin was palpable. This is a 300 or so market-rate apartment project in the Chinatown neighborhood. There aren’t too many of these communities seeing and bricks and sticks activities these days, and the forces of the universe, seen and unseen, have clearly aligned for this enterprise. And good for them. Good for us. Good for the community.

Out a bit further west, in the “Miracle Mile” district of Wilshire Boulevard, preparations are underway for the ceremonial debut of another 200 or so units in a mixed-use infill location not far from LACMA and the Tar Pits. Naturally, it’s already been open for a while, and is largely leased up—for at the final C of O bell, the project joined the community as rental apartments. (It began its life, back in 2003, as a for-sale design.) I believe that everyone involved with the project is beaming and jubilant, as they deserve to be, and the party will be a tremendous success, as they always are. (I hope those of you who are not architects will appreciate what a gas it is for us to attend these events—where we get to hang around in the realized fruit of our imaginations, listening to actual users fawn about how wonderful it is. Rare and delectable, indeed.)

So is this piece just a bit of self-congratulation? Well, not completely. It feels more to me like a really remarkable coincidence that I’m taking as an omen of better times today, with more on the way. With unemployment dropping (even here in California), money finally becoming available (and still at a pretty low rate), and construction remaining on sale, there’s a window of opportunity in the multifamily space unlike anything we’ve seen in a while. It’s encouraging, and given the levels of inquiry we’re receiving at the moment, I believe it’s the real thing, and I’m looking forward to a lot more.