Downtown LA apartment development embraces health protocols
LOS ANGELES – In her bright and airy Los Angeles apartment, 31-year-old hairstylist Natalie Barrera got ready to take her big yellow lab Jordan for a walk.
Locking the door behind her, Barrera and Jordan didn’t have to travel far to find space to exercise, despite living in the densely populated downtown area. Barrera simply climbed a few flights of stairs and came out onto a large roof lined with green foliage and dotted with hammocks and lounge chairs. After browsing Jordan for a while, the two companions settled in a secluded corner, where Jordan curled up under his owner, enjoying the afternoon sun and the calm.
What would you like to know
- Apartments and office buildings adopt health and wellness protocols more frequently in Los Angeles
- BE DTLA, a downtown apartment complex, is the first residential community to be certified by the Well Building Institute
- Residents have access to content creation studios like podcasting rooms and TikTok studios
- Wellness and health are encouraged throughout with gyms, swimming pool, and fitness studios
“Living downtown, there isn’t a ton of outdoor spaces, so I love how open it is here,” Barrera said.
Barrera moved into the BE DTLA (Be Downtown LA) apartment complex in December 2020 and said it was a welcome contrast to the last place she had lived, just minutes away.
“It was dirty,” she said. “They didn’t keep it clean. I love it here. They clean every day.”
Cleanliness is key to this downtown development which opened in 2019. BE DTLA has just over 600 units and is part of a new wave of Los Angeles apartments and offices in which developers promise their dedication to health, well-being and cleanliness.
For the owner, Behzad Souferian, whose company The Souferian Group manages the building, hygiene and attention to wellness trends were essential. COVID-19 has drawn attention to a mission that was already important to Souferian.
“My vision for BE DTLA was a value proposition,” he said. “What is more precious than our health?”
With this vision at the forefront, BE DTLA is taking apartment living to a new level, and after the pandemic there is a growing market for the Souferian wellness brand, combined with impeccable accommodation.
Residents have access to a state-of-the-art fitness room, yoga area and swimming pool. Everything is meant to promote physical and mental health in downtown LA. It comes at a time when many Angelenos call him and leave town. According to a new study from USC’s Dornsife School, 10% of LA residents plan to leave in the coming year, a 40% increase from 2019.
Jason Doctor, chairman of USC’s health policy and management department, explained how the exodus is due in part to people looking for more space after experiencing the pandemic.
“There has been a movement of people from apartments and densely populated areas to more dispersed places,” he said.
The doctor added, however, that apartments and buildings promising welfare and safety protocols could encourage city dwellers to stay.
“If the building focuses on infection control, I think it could bring more people back to apartments, especially young people who have just experienced the pandemic while living independently,” he said. “They’ll probably continue to worry about living in close quarters with people, but if the buildings take precautions, it might be nicer for them.”
Souferian hopes to allay health concerns with the “Well Certificate,” a designation from the International Well Building Institute that created a set of building standards for health. Buildings must meet specific markers to be certified by the organization. They examine water quality management, humidity management, lighting design, ventilation and air quality.
“We were the first community in all of Southern California to obtain a well certificate,” said Souferian. “These are 15 criteria that we must adhere to.”
There are many requirements for the well certificate. Each common area of BE DTLA has an air monitor that tracks and detects humidity and carbon dioxide. But it’s not just about physical health.
When designing the building, which spans almost an entire block of downtown, Souferian said the incorporation of natural elements and materials was of paramount importance. Tropical plants are placed in the many common areas inside and outside. Natural wood is used throughout the building, and upbeat music plays softly through the speakers along the aisles and in the living rooms filled with leather sofas.
BE DTLA looks like a hotel and is not a cheap place to live. Rental rates range from $ 2,000 to $ 3,700, but they are comparable to other apartments in downtown LA. Be DTLA units are high end and luxurious, but that’s not Souferian’s only goal.
“We are not looking for tenants who are looking to spend an exorbitant amount of money,” he said. “My vision has always been to give you the most bang for your buck. “
Part of that vision included creating a place where residents can actually make money – if they are content creators. Souferian, like other Los Angeles real estate developers, incorporated social media-friendly touches into the building. BE DTLA residents can study, work and create content in the “Work From Home Studio” space.
“We are the first to have podcast studios in our community space,” Souferian said. “Not only that, but we thought you need to have a little fun as well, which is why we have a TikTok and a karaoke room.”
There’s also an underground bar-style lounge tucked away behind shelves with neon lighting – not the average detail of an apartment complex, which is really the point.
“From our design to our amenities, to our services, to our focus on wellness, these are all things that differentiate BE DTLA and make it an innovative apartment community,” said Souferian.
For Barrera, more than any other highly tactile design element, she appreciates the feeling of tranquility amidst the urban hubbub.
“I love how open it is,” she said. “I wake up to birdsong… the lighting is beautiful. It’s clear, so it makes me happy.”