Towers of Panorama

Tower Records is no more but when it was around it meant something if your town or neighborhood had one. The Valley had four and one of them was rumored to be in Panorama City of all places. I was so skeptical of this I had to double check on Google Streetview:

If this seems like a rather sad and stark neighborhood declension, note within a five block radius of this location The Broadway became WalMart, Robinsons became El Super, and Ohrbach’s became the Valley Swap Meet.

General Motors became Home Depot, setting things into motion, which is as concise a summation of post-industrial Los Angeles one can make in five words.

This was the Panorama Tower, 1962. Mid-century sleek, but empty since the Northridge earthquake, nearly half its lifespan.

After a quarter century, it is being redeveloped not as offices, but as lofts.  Live/Work (read: GrubHub and YouTube Whoring) has come to downmarket Panorama, just in time for the rebuilding of the trolley line.  There are plenty of people in the neighborhood who already clean floors and do windows, making it a green and holistic proposition by New Urbanist standards, even if that was never the intention.

Our official industry now in Los Angeles is lifestyle porn. We don’t build muscle cars on Van Nuys Blvd. anymore, but we will soon have Wayfair couches and quartz countertops.

The tents are with us forever .

3 thoughts on “Towers of Panorama”

  1. Tower Records = Creative Destruction. Someday the kids will ditch digital downloads for the next iteration of music distribution. And old people will tell nostalgic stories about their first iPod.

    Panorama has two options. It can continue to decline or it can become more valuable. Goldilocks might be preferred, but the pendulum tends to swing a bit too far in each direction on its way up and down.

    Buildings – almost all buildings everywhere throughout history – are semi disposable. They require constant maintenance and must be rebuilt in whole or in part every fifty years or so. New roof. New windows. New pipes. New bath tiles. If the value of the property is too low to make that reinvestment worthwhile, or if cultural or political impediments constrain market demand buildings will simply fall apart.

    Infrastructure – all public infrastructure from roads to sewers to rail lines – do one thing and one thing only. Infrastructure increases the value of the surrounding land and facilitates growth.

    Cities want new tax revenue from increased property values. Banks and investors want economic activity to be goosed to create a surplus that can be skimmed. Builders want to build to further their own businesses. And lo and behold people want places to live and work.

  2. Panorama Tower is the tallest structure for miles and each window above the third floor is going to have a view comparable to the hills. It’s like they’re creating 20 Stahl Houses overnight. Very curious to see how they price it and who buys in.

    1. Soooooo. Let’s say you are a reasonably solvent individual who wants 1) a mint condition glass box home that 2) hovers above the Blade Runner view of LA and 3) is a manageable Lyft to the perks of civilization. But you also 4) fancy yourself a bit of an iconoclast who 5) savors the grittiness of said landscape – so long as you personally never have to touch it. What better location than the White Favela of Panorama? You get convenience, street cred, and an ironic address all at once.

      Two options. Each apartment will be huge and very expensive, designed to appeal to empty nester Boomers who don’t want to mow the lawn anymore. Or, these will be tiny personal cubbies and large common areas to facilitate Millennial bonding. There’s more than one way to cash flow a dead office tower.

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