Construction Begins at L.A.?s Playa Vista

The 1087-acre, mixed-use, master planned community, Playa Vista, received two building permits Dec. 16 from the City of Los Angeles
By Patrick L. O'Toole | January 8, 2000
And so it begins.

The 1087-acre, mixed-use, master planned community, Playa Vista, received two building permits Dec. 16 from the City of Los Angeles and construction is expected to begin this month on a visitor information center and the underground garage for an apartment complex.

By "late spring" next year about 800 apartments, town homes, and single-family homes will be ready for occupancy, says Ken Agid, vice president of marketing for the development, who says 7,000 prospective buyers have already contacted Playa Vista through word-of-mouth and news media accounts of the soon-to-be community.

This first round of permits represents a major milestone for the project, which has been 23 years in the making, beginning with the 1977 death of billionaire Howard Hughes who owned much of the land.

Sitting as it does on last remaining large parcel of coastal property in Los Angeles, Playa Vista required input from a number of groups, particu-larly environmentalists. As a result, the plan fully employs many of the principles of sustainable and green development and calls for about half of the total acreage to be devoted to open space and the preservation of rare freshwater and saltwater marshes.

Praise for Playa Vista's land use and master plan has come from many quarters. For its careful plan to use recycled and alternative building ma-terials as well as its extensive use of technology, it has been designated nationally as a model of sustainable development by the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH). In ad-dition, the U.S. EPA and the Urban Land Institute recently presented the developers with its Ah-wahnee Award for smart growth.

Many of these attributes will be teed-up and profiled to people who plan to tour the visitor center when it is completed late next summer. Very little of the information will be designed to sell particular homes, says Agid, rather multi-media presentations and other displays at the center will be educational in nature and will focus on sustainable design concepts and urban planning for new communities.

By 2004, phase one of the development will comprise 3,246 residential units and will eventu-ally grow to more than 12,000 units when Playa Vista is fully built-out in 10 years.

According to Agid, Prices will range from $1,000 per month for small rental apartments to more than $1 million for clustered single family homes. The look of the development will be augmented by 76 floor plans for 13 housing styles designed by Barry Berkus, Johannes Von Tilburg and several other well-known architects.

What can Playa Vista home buyers expect in the way of unique floor-plan amenities? Agid says their consumer research across all ranges of buyers has been important to the de-sign, and that several across-the-board prefer-ences were particularly prevalent: pet-friendly housing, parks and built-in offices.

"A number of people are working from their homes these days and need the extra space, but would rather not give up their den or family room for a computer," says Agid. "We want to give eve-ryone an office, a separate, dedicated work place, without taking away other valuable space within the home."