Far East Cafe Building
Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California

Working with the non-profit developer Little Tokyo Service Center Development Corporation, Chattel prepared the Historic Preservation Certification Application for the Far East Cafe building, a contributor to the First Street North National Historic Landmark District in Little Tokyo. The rehabilitation project involved conversion of a three-story mixed-use hotel, a single-story connector and a rear building into food service, institutional, and senior housing uses. The $3.7 million project used Historic and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.

The unreinforced masonry building was constructed in 1894 and had been vacant since the 1994 Northridge earthquake. To reuse the residential portion of the building, necessary modifications included the addition of seismic upgrades to the structure, and a new elevator and stair tower to provide a means of egress. The residential component was limited to upper floors, with units and corridors facing a monumental, Eastlake-influenced stairwell and large skylight. Over five years, Chattel provided design review and construction monitoring.

The completed project includes a new “Chop Suey” restaurant, neon blade sign, community senior computer center, and 16 apartments for low-income senior housing use. The project received design and reuse awards and was featured on Home & Gardens Television’s (HGTV) “Restore America.”