$2 Billion 4th & Central To Build All-Union

In a bold sign that development is rebounding post-pandemic, a massive 10-building complex hailed as “the new gateway to Downtown LA” is clearing major hurdles in the approval process.

Fourth & Central, a mixed-use project at the intersection of the Arts DistrictLittle Tokyo and Skid Row neighborhoods, is approaching what could be a 2025 groundbreaking.

It will be built under a Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, and will generate more than 10,000 union jobs for skilled craftsmen and women. 

“Fourth & Central is a monumental undertaking and will create lasting benefits not just for the men and women of the Building Trades but to Angelenos of all walks of life for years to come,” said Ernesto Medrano, Executive Secretary of the Building Trades Council.

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A tower, left, by British architect Sir David Adjaye will include a hotel.
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Fourth & Central will create 1,521 homes.
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The complex will comprise 10 new buildings.
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Residents and visitors will enjoy shops, plazas and restaurants.
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LA Cold Storage currently occupies the site.
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Mark Falcone, founder and CEO of developer Continuum Partners, highlighted the role of the Building Trades, whose families may also find homes at Fourth & Central after construction.  

“For a project of this scale and in this market, we see numerous benefits in aligning ourselves with the local unions, not the least of which is their proven ability to train and develop highly skilled craftsmen and women who are essential to our success, given the complexity and scale of this project,” Falcone told “Building Trades News.” “We eagerly anticipate even closer collaboration to address the workforce housing needs of the neighborhood as this project advances.”

Among 1,521 residential units, Fourth & Central will include at least 214 below-market rate, which developers point out is one of the largest provisions by a private developer in Downtown LA’s history. Complying with the city’s 2016 Measure JJJ, the project combines affordable housing, transit- and pedestrian-oriented development and union labor standards. 

The goal of “workforce housing,” usually aimed at those making up to 120 percent of an area’s median income, will allow more Trades members to live in the structures they erect, and utilize the transit lines they build.

That’s especially important as the Building Trades are in a major recruiting drive in partnership with the Council’s nonprofit Apprenticeship Readiness Fund, which prepares individuals for apprenticeship. “With our diverse classes of apprentices, many grew up in the city of LA and want to be able to live here as they start their Building Trades careers,” Medrano said. 

Situated on 7.6 acres, Fourth & Central will expand the current locus of residential redevelopment farther into the city’s historic industrial core. It will add a 42-story skyscraper and mid-sized buildings to the mostly low-lying landscape, as well as offices, restaurants, hotels and more than two acres of open ground space. 

Continuum has submitted a Draft Environmental Impact Report to the City of Los Angeles, which will start the approvals process. The final EIR should be released by this coming summer.

Continuum, based in Denver, is developing the project with private financing, in concert with LA Cold Storage, a refrigeration company in business since the late 1800s and owner of the parcel.

“LA Cold Storage will find a new home at a more fitting location, and our current site will be a new home and community to thousands of Angelenos—that gives me a tremendous amount of pride,” said LA Cold Storage President Larry Rauch.

Fourth & Central will also draw architecture fans. With a master plan by Studio One Eleven and a centerpiece tower and hotel by prize-winning architect Sir David Adjaye OBE, renderings incorporate and modernize elements of the industrial terrain. Understated structures in brick, glass and steel are connected by landscaped, pedestrian pathways and ground-level retail and restaurants.

British-Ghanaian architect Adjaye is perhaps best known for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Unlike redevelopments of residential neighborhoods that tend to elicit community pushback over gentrification, the Fourth & Central project takes over a purely industrial site and thus doesn’t threaten residential displacement.

To date, developers say there has not been any major resistance from the surrounding communities—just intense interest. Continuum estimates the project will generate nearly $1 billion in construction labor output over the course of the buildout, and around $430 million for the City’s general fund over the next quarter century.

Fourth & Central will have an ideal location along Metro’s future light transit line on Alameda Street. The 14.5-mile light rail line will connect Southeast LA neighborhoods with Downtown. With a terminus in Union Station, the rail line, newly named “Southeast Gateway,” will run through the Arts District and Little Tokyo. 

“We talk a lot about transit-oriented development,” Medrano said. “Well, Fourth & Central is the ultimate example. We look forward to building this.” 

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