Aven, 1120 S. Grand, Los Angeles, CA

$317 million, 37 story high rise, 448 apartment units, with retail on ground level over subterranean parking.  


Challenge(s):  Challenge was not just one but many, some clarified through Letter of Clarification, but still needing implementation: 

Satisfying FAR, 

parking reduction, 

parking stall size reduction, 

TFAR, 

# of trees,

 removal of trees, 

park hours and Open Space, 

elevations overall, 

elevations re. recreational use on upper level, 

FAA, 

structural/mat slab/drainage, 

all of which required innumerable meetings with Planning as well as continual      “education” of plan checkers accordingly in order to obtain clearances.










AVA - Hollywood

Avalon, 6677 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

$177 million mixed use project, 695 units with 24,900 s.f. retail including 31 affordable units, 7 stories over 2 subterranean levels of parking, fronting on and accessing 3 streets: Santa Monica Blvd, Las Palmas Ave., and Lexington Ave.  


Challenge(s):      

13 demo permits, to be obtained simultaneously.

Hazardous materials required DTSC Letter as well as leaping NPDES hurdles.     

Process Construction Traffic Management Plan through both the City and Caltrans. Obtain Fire clearances – (1) fire lane from Lexington to Santa Monica Blvd while also “dividing” the project, (2) address(es) for “front” of project (retail) and back of project (apartments).

Obtain a surfeit of Planning clearances.     

Obtain utilities/easement storm drain quitclaim (both county and city).

Develop phased TCO’s.     

Voluntarily underground utilities on Santa Monica Blvd. – requiring processing through both DWP and Caltrans as well as City BOE simultaneously.

Herald Examiner, 156 W. 11th, Los Angeles, CA

Forest City  (11x12 Project)  $65 million dollar project, two geographically separated parcels: (1) 156 W. 11th (“11”) and 1201 S. Main (“12”).  “11” is 7 story mixed use comprised of 177 apartment units with 2 levels of basement garage parking.  “12” is 7 story mixed use comprised of 124 apartments with 1 level of underground parking.  


Challenge(s):  One planning case but two different projects located two blocks from each other -- (1) 156 W. 11th (“11”) and 1201 S. Main (“12”). These projects (and one other, the Herald Examiner building, that was not developed) were part of the same case, but since separated physically by blocks were required to be plan checked and permitted separately, creating confusion and thus constant attention to disallow duplication. Additionally, “11” was discovered to have tunnels serving both the old Herald Examiner building as well as the parcel across 11th Street to the west. 


This in conjunction with a large vacant vault – ownership unknown purportedly DWP but denied, and a difficult construction traffic management plan (incorporating MyFig designs) considering the location of the two projects in DTLA, made permitting these projects a challenge. Additionally, the project changed General Contractors midway through the process of pulling permits. And finally, the case had an inordinate amount of Environmental Mitigation Measures which required detail in resolution and several planning meetings accordingly. 


Solution:  Communication, communication, communication concomitant with persistence – as with our Forest City’s Blossom Plaza project, constant daily communication amongst all the parties and agencies involved was required. Additionally, an unusual amount of research resulted in the ability to address both the vault and tunnel issues.



Herald Examiner, 1201 S. Main, Los Angeles, CA

Forest City (11x12 Project), $ $65 million dollar project, two geographically separated parcels: (1) 156 W. 11th (“11”) and 1201 S. Main (“12”).  “11” is 7 story mixed use comprised of 177 apartment units with 2 levels of basement garage parking.  “12” is 7 story mixed use comprised of 124 apartments with 1 level of underground parking.   


Challenge(s):  One planning case but two different projects located two blocks from each other -- (1) 156 W. 11th (“11”) and 1201 S. Main (“12”). These projects (and one other, the Herald Examiner building, that was not developed) were part of the same case, but since separated physically by blocks were required to be plan checked and permitted separately, creating confusion and thus constant attention to disallow duplication. 

Additionally, “11” was discovered to have tunnels serving both the old Herald Examiner building as well as the parcel across 11th Street to the west. 

This in conjunction with a large vacant vault – ownership unknown purportedly DWP but denied, and a difficult construction traffic management plan (incorporating MyFig designs) considering the location of the two projects in DTLA, made permitting these projects a challenge. 

Additionally, the project changed General Contractors midway through the process of pullingDouglas Development permits. And finally, the case had an inordinate amount of Environmental Mitigation Measures which required detail in resolution and several planning meetings accordingly.  


Solution:  Communication, communication, communication concomitant with persistence – as with our Forest City’s Blossom Plaza project, constant daily communication amongst all the parties and agencies involved was required. Additionally, an unusual amount of research resulted in the ability to address both the vault and tunnel issues.


Highland & Selma, Hollywood, CA

Mill Creek  $62 million project – 

Building A (two buildings), 1600 N. Highland Ave.  6 story mixed use with 134 apartment units and 4 levels underground parking,    

Building B, 6750 W. Selma Ave.  5 story mixed use with 114 apartment units and subterranean parking.  


Challenge(s):  

One planning case, 3 buildings physically separated by a public alley and another one block away.  

Coordinating two separate plan checkers for 3 Early Start Permits each to permit simultaneously so as to allow economies of scale for construction and ownership.

Continued education of city staff regarding entitlement for three physically separate buildings, one planning case, complicated shared parking with adjacent non-owner owned parcels, bridge over public alley housing all utilities servicing two of the three buildings requiring advocacy for unusual Covenants.



South Park, 1230 S. Olive, Los Angeles, CA

$80 million, 5 story project with 362 dwelling units and underground parking.  


Challenge(s).    Many challenges, among them:  

Urban Forestry – removal of trees in order to construct, 

utilization of alley onsite and construction traffic management plan approval, 

Downtown Design Guidelines and planning clearances. 

All requiring teamwork via diligence, persistence, clarification/communication/education/advocacy.

Sofia, 1120 W. 6th, Los Angeles, CA

Holland  $250 million, 5-7 story (depending upon the street) in 2 buildings, mixed use project fronting on 3 major streets – 6th, Bixel, and Lucas, with 648 apartment units including 27 very low income, 40k s.f. commercial retail, with 3 levels subterranean parking. 


Challenge(s):   

Obtain Haul Route Permit satisfying the EIR Route Conditions specified, communicate with grading regarding the different varying grade elevations extant throughout the Project, 

communicate with B&S as well as Planning regarding the unusual shared parking arrangement with Medical Office Building renovation adjacent, 

relocate very large Art Sculpture onsite while satisfying Cultural Affairs, 

all while processing for Early Start Permits on short timeline.  


Solution:  Hire a Firm who has experience in dealing with a myriad of different issues at varying levels of difficulty with various city departments simultaneously.


Vibiana, 230 S. Main, Los Angeles, CA

Holland  $27 million, 5 story mixed use with 234 apartment units including commercial/retail components and 3 levels of underground parking.  


Challenge(s):  Detailed review with Urban Design Studio for reduction of Open Space and overall elevations sitting next to historical Vibiana Cathedral, 

obtaining 2 street addresses (Main and Los Angeles St.) with Fire Department, 

obtaining approval from DOT for ingress/egress from underground parking onto two one way streets, 

and working with Little Tokyo Library re. parking and substructure design/construction. 


Solution:  Hire a Firm who has excellent personal, knowledgeable working relationships with Fire and DOT as well as other departments who need to clear for Permits.

Conversion, 1136 W. 6th, Los Angeles, CA

Holland  $7 million conversion of an historical 8 story medical office building into 42 live work units.  


Challenge(s):  :  Obtaining demo permit for the non-historical components while maintaining historical components to satisfy City historic staff,

upgrading remainder to meet B&S, Fire, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing codes,

communicating same while educating a new and detailed B&S plan checker regarding Scope and City Adaptive Reuse Ordinance as well as live-work concept.



Blossom Plaza, Chinatown,

Forest City  $100 million five story 239,556 s.f., three building project fronting on College and Broadway, 237 apartments, 19,118 s.f. commercial including 3 restaurants with alcohol and entertainment venues and 16,000 s.f. cultural plaza connecting Broadway Street to MTA Gold line Chinatown Station, with 4 levels private and City DOT subterranean parking. 


Challenge(s):   Working simultaneously with two separate architectural firms assigned to the project, 

coordinating between City of LA and MTA while also processing connection/access MTA permits and legal documents through the MTA bureaucratic maze, bifurcating the project to allow separate TCO’s, and obtaining City of Los Angeles permits by deadline to grant project’s award of TCAC funding.  


Solution:  Communication, communication, communication – constant daily communication between architectural firms, team, and all levels of governmental agencies.  As the Lead, Douglas Development was hired to facilitate extensive teamwork required between two architectural firms and other engineering firms while also expediting the project through governmental agencies responsible for clearing all Permits.  


Results:  Douglas Development and the team were able to obtain all Permits such that Forest City, the developer, was able to construct precisely their design, and to obtain TCAC funding by the deadline required.

Looking "into" Blossom Plaza

Lotus Gardens, Chinatown, Los Angeles, CA

Serious digging

$65 million five-story, 60 affordable housing units fronting on both Yale Street and Hill Street with the first city-wide five-level, lift-slide, automatic parking system (“Carmatrix”) located within 3 story underground parking garage. 


Challenge(s):  Obtain all Permits for a five story housing unit with a 3 levels of underground parking, meet Code of having only one (100’ high) retaining wall, and meet a short TCAC Funding deadline.  


Solution:  Extensive Teamwork which would include a Firm that would be the Lead and also known by City staffs as well as knowledgeable about the inner workings of obtaining all clearances for all Permits.  

Design and permit a structure with one 100’ high retaining wall that was shored temporarily by a multitude of 4’ rakers, redesign 3 garage levels underground parking to 1 ½ garage levels by providing the first of its kind in the City of Los Angeles (as such, the City being reluctant to approve the Permit for same) a 17 space automatic Carmatrix parking structure within the parking structure.  


Results:  Douglas Development was hired to be in charge of obtaining all Permits.   All Permits were obtained, including the first of its kind Carmatrix, and met short TCAC Funding deadline, thereby allowing Funding and construction of the Project.      

The final "product"

"Sharon Douglas provided exceptional service at Lotus Gardens. Without her expertise, the project never would have succeeded. We redesigned the entire garage and included the first semi-automatic mechanical parking system in Los Angeles, all within our strict tax-credit deadlines. Sharon guided us through the system every step of the way, solving problem after problem.”      


Micah Spano, Vice President of Construction, Affirmed Housing Group


University Gateway, Figueroa & Jefferson, Los Angeles, CA

Clark Construction  $125 million eight-story, 421 student housing units for USC, ground floor mixed use – retail, bookstore, gym, and new eight story parking structure including utilization of offsite parking structure.  Challenge:  Accommodate parking offsite in existing 5 story parking structure a block away while meeting Municipal Code and ADA requirements. Obtain clearances for all Permits by Entitlements deadline – processing Clearances having been curtailed due to past lawsuits, and because of those lawsuits, obtaining clearances for all Permits for the project was highly scrutinized.  Solution:  Hire a Firm knowledgeable about obtaining as well as expediting all Permits within the City of Los Angeles who is also politically sophisticated.  Results:  Douglas Development was the lead for obtaining all Permits, worked daily with City staff and, with the political support of the Mayor’s office, was able to garner critical attention to a myriad of departmental clearances required for Permits. All clearances for all Permits were obtained within the fast approaching Entitlements deadline.$150 illm

Caroline Severance, 2914 W. 8th, Los Angeles

Caroline Severance Manor, Mercy Housing

$16 million five-story, 85 affordable housing units, in two different zones = fronting on both 8th Street and Francis Street, including child care facility, with 2 level underground parking structure. 


Challenge(s):  

*Obtain all Permits to meet TCAC Funding deadline 

*Bonding – different ownerships having taken title under different names to different parcels *Termination of Lot Ties, replacing with new Lot Ties 

*Termination of existing Covenants to Hold, replacing with new Covenants to Hold with new owners prior to their having acquired Title 

*Redesign of entire project to accommodate limited budget, thus creating new Conditions to be cleared prior to fast approaching deadline for Funding 

*Removal of City’s required street widening through City Council 

*Obtain amended Street Tree Permit as a result of DWP location of transformer in a timely fashion so as not to halt ongoing construction  


Solution:  Hire a Firm who can produce under pressure and a short timeframe and who is experienced with obtaining all Permits (including in this case - complicated Demo Permits, required complicated legal documents, complicated Bonding procedure, removal of City’s required street widening through City Council).  


Results:  Douglas Development was hired to be in charge of obtaining all Permits. All Permits were obtained by TCAC Funding deadline.      


“When processing time is critical to our success, Mercy Housing trusts Douglas Development to identify, manage, and report on the steps necessary to achieve our permitting and approval objectives. Sharon’s comprehensive approach saved our bacon on more than one occasion, as she knows the picayune details of the process, maintains excellent relationships with key approval authorities, and is constantly checking and rechecking the critical path to inform us of potential delays.”     

Ben Phillips     Vice President/Regional Director of Housing Development, Mercy Housing, Los Angeles, CA

Jefferson Park, 3023 S. Western, Los Angeles, CA

Mercy Housing  $16 million four-story, 60 affordable housing units, with original historic Fatburger included in overall Project.  


Challenge(s):  

*Obtain Construction Permits with an historic Fatburger as part of the project, by TCAC Funding deadline,

*Then Redesign of the project due to construction costs while simultaneously meeting TCAC Funding deadline by pulling Permits. 

*Obtain Demo Permit for a building that neither existed on site nor in the City’s building records archives. 

*Obtain Relocation Permit for historic Fatburger. 

*Obtain one of the City’s first graywater approvals with most City staff reluctant to be the first to approve same.  


Solution:  Hire a Firm knowledgeable with the Client and Team’s approach to development, who works well under pressure, and who is experienced in the City of Los Angeles with expediting complicated Building Permits while also meeting TCAC Funding deadline.  


Results:  Douglas Development was in charge of obtaining clearances and Construction Permits to meet TCAC Funding deadline.  Client met TCAC Funding deadline and Project is now complete.     


"Douglas Development’s knowledge of the LA City permitting process and relationships within the City’s administration helped navigate unique design elements through to permit on the Jefferson Park Terrace project. The expertise provided allowed the project to move beyond what would have been definite schedule impacts."      Aaron Kalmus, Project Manager,  Dreyfuss Construction




Sage Park, 1302 W. 177th, Los Angeles, CA

Bridge Housing  $19 million 3 story, 90 affordable and market rate dwelling units with a separate joint use center and a separate juvenile impact program facility.  


Challenge(s):  Obtain all construction permits within 6 months so as to meet TCAC funding deadline while simultaneously satisfying requirements of Los Angeles Unified School District, City of Gardena, Gardena High School, and Golden State Water District.  


Solution:  Create and then manage a Team in a collaborative, coordinated, focused effort so as to reach a tight deadline of having all construction permits in hand by the TCAC funding deadline.  


Results:  Pulled all construction permits required to successfully close construction financing with critical TCAC funding.      


"In exchange for receiving tax credits from TCAC, Bridge Housing was required to close the development's construction financing within 180 days after the award of tax credits. Completing architectural working drawings and pulling building permits within 6 months proved to be challenging and nearly impossible. Douglas Development understood the City of Los Angeles’ permitting process and utilized their strong business relationships with key City staff to expedite the plan review and building permit process. Bridge successfully closed the construction financing and it was due in large part to Douglas Development's active involvement as our permit expeditor. We would not hesitate to utilize their services again as permit expeditor on the next development we pursue in the City of Los Angeles."      

Philip Williams, Director of Development, BRIDGE Housing Corporation 

Walgreens

One of 78 Walgreens projects Douglas Development completed Site Assessments, obtained Entitlements, and/or expedited Building Permits (see Walgreens).


Challenge(s):  Demo existing grocery store, maintain grocery store wall along Cesar Chavez as well as meet Commercial Corner Code requirements so as to preserve “by-right” approval to construct. Challenge involved street dedications in conjunction with landscape setbacks, placement of building, maintaining and approval of Historic Streetscape Walgreens design.   


Solution:  Hire a Firm knowledgeable and experienced with the City of Los Angeles’ Commercial Corner Code requirements and nuances, as well as experienced in resolving sensitive Historic concerns while simultaneously satisfying Community Redevelopment Agency requirements.  


Results:  Walgreens was able to obtain expedited Building Permits without having to obtain any Entitlements for said Project – to build as a “by-right” project, thereby allowing Client to maintain a reasonable timeframe for overall processing and construction.       


“Douglas Development was contracted to provide various services related to the government processing and relations for the construction of a Walgreens at Cesar Chavez and Breed in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA. The project was complex and required experience with numerous City agencies and an understanding of the process to secure approvals amongst competing departments. Led by Sharon Douglas, the firm was patient but persistent in representing the interests of Walgreens. On numerous occasions, Sharon provided insight and creative solutions to difficult issues. If Timberline had another project in the city of Los Angeles, we would certainly request Sharon to be part of the team.”     

David Mudgett     Principal and Developer     Timberline Commercial Development

Caltrans Building, 1st & Main, Los Angeles

Clark Construction.  


Challenge:  Protruding Structures attached to constructed Caltrans building along 1st and Main not permitted to encroach into public right of way on 1st Street and as such required approvals from the City of Los Angeles and the State Office of Caltrans. Additionally, street dedications as well as street vacations required to assist in approval of encroachment. 


Solution:  Douglas Development to obtain airspace vacation, street vacation, street dedication, and record general easement deed for said structures along 1st and/or Main so Client could receive release of Bond associated with same. Required coordination with City of Los Angeles Public Works, Real Estate, and City Council as well as Caltrans locally and Caltrans in Sacramento. 


Results:  Completed vacations, dedications, and recordation of deed; Bond was released to Client.

Unocal 76, Corte Madera

One of 42 Unocal 76 Projects Douglas Development processed throughout California for Unocal 76 (see Unocal 76).  


Challenge(s):  Obtain Zoning Interpretation supporting car wash operations from a City disinclined to support a car wash, obtain Entitlements to allow demo and reconstruction of a gas station into a gas station with a mini-mart as well as car wash at a main, busy intersection in the Town of Corte Madera. 


Solution:  Hire an experienced Firm familiar with northern California Bay Area Cities’ politics and staffs to process and obtain Entitlements necessary for said rebuild and new use. 


Results:  In hotly contested hearings, including objections from staff and the previous Mayor, Douglas Development was able to obtain approval for a Zoning Interpretation to allow a new gas station with a mini-mart and car wash operation to proceed.

ARCO am/pm

One of 29 AM/PM projects Douglas Development completed Site Assessments, Entitled, and/ or Expedited Building Permits (see ARCO).  


Challenge:  Throughout southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada, manage, entitle, and permit 29 projects - from concept to completed facility. 


Results:  Douglas Development directed consultants and client company staff in preparation of documents/plans required by various governmental jurisdictions. Worked with city/county staffs and lobbied city/county planning commission, city council, county boards of Supervisor, and appropriate State departments to obtain Entitlements (e.g., site plan, CUP, Type 20 ABC license, parcel map), expedite Building Permits. Coordinated with General Contractor during construction phase.