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Barrington Plaza To Take Units Off Market For $300M Fire Safety Update

The Barrington Plaza Apartments

The owner of the Barrington Plaza Apartments at the southwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Barrington Avenue in West LA will take all apartment units in the three towers off the rental market.

Tenants in the apartment complex are being forced to leave their apartments in order to put fire sprinklers and make other "life safety improvements" to the high-rise complex that has seen two fires in the past decade, Douglas Emmett announced Monday. The property owner is using a state law that allows for the permanent removal of rental units from the market often used when ownership plans to convert to condos or demolish the property.

"These fire and life safety improvements cannot be accomplished without vacating all three towers," a release from ownership reads. "Barrington Plaza has stopped leasing vacant units, and the fire and life safety improvement project can take several years at a cost of over $300 million."

A 2013 fire was followed by a January 2020 fire that resulted in the death of one resident and injured about a dozen others. A few months after the fire, a group of tenants sued Douglas Emmett alleging that ownership was aware of fire safety issues at the property and did not address them, that not having sprinklers in the building allowed the fire to become dangerous and that a lack of operable smoke detectors and fire alarms meant that tenants did not have enough notice that the fire was a threat, NBC LA reported at the time. 

After the 2020 fire, eight floors were "red-tagged" by the city, barring them from being occupied. Those units have not been repaired or returned to the rental market. City approval for rebuilding those comprehensively damaged floors was based on the condition that fire sprinklers and other safety improvements be installed in all three buildings of the apartment complex, according to a release from the property owners. 

Barrington Plaza's residential component is one 25-story tower and two 15-story towers built in 1961, before a 1974 ordinance requiring sprinklers in new high-rises. The building is subject to the city's rent-stabilization ordinance, so Douglas Emmett will use the Ellis Act to take the apartments off the rental market, paying relocation assistance and meeting other requirements for taking the units offline, the company noted in its release. Barrington Plaza will also have on-site relocation specialists who can offer "individualized tenant support and aid in locating, viewing, and moving into new residences." 

The complex has 712 units in total but units on fire-damaged floors two through nine have not been in operation since 2020. Currently, 577 apartments in the towers are occupied. Those tenants are paying rents that equate to market-rate, the release notes, though rent-stabilization rules dictate how often their rents can be raised and by how much.

Related Topics: Douglas Emmett