REthink’s Inaugural Project is Greenest, and Most Musical, Multi-Housing Community in The Golden State

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorLos Angeles—REthink Development, a Culver City, Calif.-based real estate development and consulting company, is about to complete its inaugural project, the Lofts @ Cherokee Studios, a sustainable 12-unit live/work loft development in Los Angeles. REthink Development was founded by Steve Edwards, a real estate entrepreneur, and Greg Reitz, previously a Green…

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorLos Angeles—REthink Development, a Culver City, Calif.-based real estate development and consulting company, is about to complete its inaugural project, the Lofts @ Cherokee Studios, a sustainable 12-unit live/work loft development in Los Angeles. REthink Development was founded by Steve Edwards, a real estate entrepreneur, and Greg Reitz, previously a Green Building Advisor for the City of Santa Monica, where he established many of the city’s green building programs. Edwards’ background in software, coupled with his experience in commercial real estate, led him to recognize that the “key is differentiation and the speed to market and having a specialty.”Originally, REthink worked with the Studio on the project, but when Cherokee realized how much would go into the project, they sold it to REthink. “We got a decent price on the land—it would have been more if we had competed with it on the market,” notes Edwards.While residences have not yet been sold, Edwards asserts that REthink is determining how to best work through the difficult economic and housing climate. Currently, homes at the Lofts may be eligible for a $10,000 state tax credit, an $8,000 federal tax credit and/or SBA (Small Business Administration) financing.Designed by Pugh and Scarpa and Cobalt Engineering, the approximately $11 million Lofts @ Cherokee Studios is expected to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification when it is completed in September/October and is expected to be the greenest mixed-use development in the state.The duo initially “built a duplex in Culver City as a prototype of how to do green on a budget,” explains Edwards. Though it was a single-family home, they proved it could be done, so they went out to find a larger project. “We wanted to be LEED Silver—it evolved organically. Since Greg is an expert in green building, we didn’t take the normal approach. We said, ‘let’s build it as best we can without looking at the LEED checklist until we designed the building,’” Edwards tells MHN.Some of the project’s green features include high-efficiency air filtration, high-efficiency tankless water heaters, high-efficiency variable refrigerant flow heating and cooling system, formaldehyde-free cabinets and flooring, drought-resistant landscaping, FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood, under-sidewalk infiltration system to reduce stormwater runoff, reclaimed Black Forest Walnut from Studio One, and electric car charging for every unit. In addition, the project is over 40 percent more efficient than California’s Title 24 standards.A solar array on the building’s roof not only adds to the sustainability of the building, but also provides a “cash-on-cash return,” says Edwards. REthink owns the array separately from the building, so residents essentially lease the panels and pay for the power generated. Edwards notes that the cost to residents is no different than it would be if they were paying for energy separately, and “the payment [residents] make per month, on top of the rebate [for the panels] make it a worthwhile investment.”The double façade on the building, which includes an aluminum perforated operable façade in the front, helps to insulate the building. In addition, it creates a creativity factor to the building, as residents can change the look of the building depending on whether the façade is open or closed, explains Edwards. “It’s a 50-ft. canvas where people can express themselves,” he says.Lofts @ Cherokee Studios is located on the former site of a legendary recording studio in Hollywood. Six units are prepared to have music production spaces in them, with two of those units being penthouses with dedicated space that can be outfitted with recording equipment.To celebrate the project’s completion, REthink Development will be hosting a rock-n-roll design showcase. Four designers will be tasked to create four lofts that pay homage to handpicked artists who once recorded at Cherokee Studios. “It’s the marriage of high, cool design with this historic rock star ethos,” notes Edwards.Rogerio Carvalheiro of RC Design Federation will be using David Bowie as inspiration; Kristin Casey and Rick Rifle from Stylus Life will design with Frank Sinatra in mind; Lori Dennis and Brook Casey of Dennis Design Group will pay homage to Alice Cooper; and Jennifer Siegel of Office of Mobile Design and Sandra Sharma of BLANKSPACES will design using 30 Seconds to Mars as inspiration.Amenities include a courtyard connecting the two buildings, a living roof deck, a landscaped sidewalk, large balconies in all units and a parking garage—in addition to the electric car charging stations.In addition to the residential aspect, there is 2,600 square feet of retail space on the site. One potential tenant for the space is a green company looking to rent out a sustainable space, says Edwards.The project, which received 94 “walkable” points—out of 100—is located north of Melrose and in close proximity to Melrose Heights Fashion District, Sunset Strip, The Grove shopping mall and Beverly Center. In addition, the site is located two and a half blocks from a future subway stop.

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