November 28, 2022

LA Flower Market redevelopment by Brooks + Scarpa moves forward

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission approved the redevelopment of the Southern California Flower Market by local firm Brooks + Scarpa Architects.

The most significant changes to the four-acre lot include the addition of a 15-story tower that will cut into the existing flower market building. The 205-foot tower is segmented into three zones, each of which will be topped by a roof terrace. It will house more than 300 residential units and nearly 64,000 square feet for the wholesale market.

Brooks + Scarpa weaves pedestrian promenades throughout the property and adds flower murals at street levels to thematically unify the development. It’s LA, so of course there will be parking, almost 700 spaces in total. The stretch of asphalt will be screened by apartments on the Maple Avenue side and screened along Wall Street in accordance with the city’s downtown design guide.

Construction on the $170 million project is expected to begin this year and run through 2022. To keep the market open, vendors will be moved twice, once to the south building and again to the north building while each respective structure is renovated.

The construction of the large-scale development has sparked controversy over potential noise and air quality issues. (Rendered courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects)

The proposed development, planned for a nearly four-acre property bounded by 7th Street, Wall Street and Maple Avenue, would replace part of the existing Flower Market, an approximately 185,000 square foot building, with a mixed-use 15 . history tour including:

  • 323 housing units, 32 of which are priced for low-income households
  • 64,363 square feet of office space
  • 63,785 square feet of wholesale market space
  • 4,385 square feet of retail space
  • 13,420 square feet of space for goods and beverages
  • 21,295 square feet of event space
  • 681 parking spaces located above and below ground level

The North Flower Market Building, approximately 206,517 square feet, will be retained and renovated as part of the project.

Render looking towards downtown LA of a multi-level development with a basement plaza
It would include multiple levels of retail and office space. (Rendered courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa)

Brooks + Scarpa will include a series of at-grade walkways crossing the property. The main tower would be divided into three cascading volumes, each capped with terraces. The plans also call for a range of exterior finishes, including metal, glass and possibly stone or precast concrete. Parking levels above ground level would be screened by residential units along Maple Avenue and screened, per Downtown Design Guide standards along Wall Street.

Rendering of a street next to a mural of flowers and trees
The renovated concrete building will be covered with flower-themed murals signaling the presence of the neighborhood. (Rendered courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa)

In voting to approve the project, the Planning Commission also rejected two calls from his provisional acquisition card. The first was submitted by American Florists Exchange, owner and operator of the nearby Los Angeles Flower Market, which argued that bringing residents into the Flower District could create a conflict with existing industrial uses. A staff report to the Commission indicates that the two flower markets are engaged in private discussions and that the appeal was filed to preserve the appellants’ right to challenge the project as it proceeds through the approval process of the town.

A representative from American Florists Exchange noted that her client was in favor of the nearby development, with caveats that the project should be designed to protect future residents from early morning noise at the flower market and that vehicle access on Wall Street should be maintained during and after construction. The second appeal, filed by the coalition of construction unions known as CREEDLA, argued that the environmental impact report for the project did not take sufficient account of noise and air quality.

Development breakdown chart (Courtesy Brooks + Scarpa)
Development breakdown chart (Courtesy Brooks + Scarpa)

The Story of the Southern California Flower Market dates from 1909, when it was founded by a collective of Japanese-American flower growers at 421 S. Los Angeles Street, before moving to its present location in 1912. The age of the market’s existing facilities has been described as the main driver of the project; a motion drafted by City Council member Jose Huizar called both buildings “functionally obsolete”. But rather than seek a new home outside the Los Angeles city limits, the proposed development would modernize the Flower Market, with relevant commercial uses to ensure its long-term viability.

In voting to approve the project and reject both appeals, the Board attached conditions that the project’s proposed mural would not count towards the developer’s obligation to provide public art and that a portion of the parking lot should be prepared for charging electric vehicles. Additionally, commissioners voted to require all above-grade parking lots to be fully screened, a condition that was placed on several other projects which have recently passed in front of the body. Project rights will then be reviewed by the City Council’s Land Use Planning and Management Committee.

The Flower Market project is across Maple Avenue from a surface parking lot where developer Realm Group has obtained rights to build a 33-storey apartment tower and across 7th street 649 Lofts and Flor 401 Lofts—two permanent sets of supportive housing being built by Skid Row Housing Trust.