All the Details on the Mixed-Use Rebirth of the Enormous Boyle Heights Sears Complex

The huge, historic Sears complex in Boyle Heights has been anticipating a major makeover since developer Izek Shomof (of Downtown’s Title Insurance Building and the King Edward Hotel overhauls) bought the property in late 2013, with the idea to turn it into a mixed-use community. The adaptive reuse and conversion of the 10-story, 1.8-million-square-foot building has now received preliminary approval from a city zoning official, says Eastsider LA, and in the process revealed some new details about what’s headed for the widely recognizable structure.

The plan as it stands calls for the creation of 1,030 live/work units inside the complex, with some of the units limited to “artists, artisans and designers,” says ELA. The Sears store, which is going to be sticking around (they have a 90-year lease at the site) takes up about 250,000 square feet and will be joined by just shy of 99,000 square feet of additional retail space on the ground floor. Another 250,000 square feet will be converted into creative office space.

ELA says that the zoning official’s decision means that developers can “take advantage of several city incentives in connection with building density,” but also that they have to provide a few community-oriented benefits, like a shuttle that will run between the property and the Gold Line station, street widening, and upgrades to traffic signals. This is just the beginning for the project, which will be subject to a lot review and can still be appealed.

Back when the first glimpses of the Sears reboot were making the rounds, the neighbors seemed dividedabout the project. Some locals worried about hastening the gentrification that could push them out of their long-time homes. Others welcomed a development that they see as offering a place of return for young, upwardly mobile Boyle Heights residents who have a left for school or other reasons.

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