Huge Development Planned for Little Tokyo Galleria

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Rafu Staff Report

Little Tokyo Galleria opened in 1985. Owners filed plans on Feb. 10 to build 994 residential units on the property. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

Owners of the Little Tokyo Galleria on Third and Alameda streets have filed plans with the city to build nearly 1,000 residential units on the 3.6-acre site at the southern end of Little Tokyo.

The plans submitted on Feb. 10 to the Department of City Planning call for 994 residential units, including 110 live/work units and 160 affordable units, as well as 99,300 square feet of commercial space.

The filing came ahead of the March 7 vote on Measure S, which if passed would have imposed a two-year moratorium on any development that requires changes in maximum height or land use designation.

It is unclear whether the proposed development would involve demolition of the shopping center or its adjoining five-level parking structure.

The three-story shopping complex, formerly known as Yaohan Plaza, was developed by Al Taira and Wilson Liu in 1985. Japanese grocery chain Yaohan, later renamed Mitsuwa Market, anchored the shopping center until the market closed in 2009.

The plaza was sold in 2000 to developer Richard Meruelo for less than $20 million and renamed Little Tokyo Square. In 2008 a group of Korean American investors purchased the shopping center for $34.5 million and have implemented a series of improvements including the installation of new metallic panels on the building facade. Current tenants include Daiso, X Lanes bowling alley and the Little Tokyo Market, as well as Korean and Japanese restaurants including Ihwamum Ice Cream, Honda Ya Izakaya and Hana Ichimonme.

The Real Deal, a Los Angeles real estate news website, reported that the owner is Dae Young Lee, president of wholesale distribution company Joia Trading Inc.

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