Developer defies recession with L.A. high-rise plan

A major developer announced a $1 billion high-rise office and hotel complex in Los Angeles, the first new downtown construction project since the real estate spiral largely scuttled dreams of a resurgent city center.

Thomas Property Group’s plans call for a 60-story, glass-walled building with a slanted profile resembling a ship’s sail that would be built on property owned by development partner Korean Air Co. The design includes a 40-story hotel and condo tower and an 18,000-square-foot public park that would replace the 50-year-old Wilshire Grand hotel.

Company Chairman and Chief Executive James A. Thomas said the city’s first major office high-rise in about 20 years will satisfy what he sees as a rising demand for business real estate as downtown grows after the recession.

The proposal is to replace the existing complex with two high-rise towers, totaling approximately 1,750,000 square feet: a 40-story tower featuring a luxury hotel of up to 700 rooms topped by several floors of condominiums, and a 1,150,000-square-foot, 60-story office tower, connected with plazas and open space, designed to meet U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification standards.

“This exciting and bold new project is a major step forward in our efforts to add green, multi-use developments to the center of our city,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “Standing just a few blocks from Staples Center and L.A. Live, the Wilshire Grand redevelopment effort will help revitalize downtown, and we look forward to seeing this proposal proceed through the public review process and produce a new landmark that benefits Los Angeles, the community, and the local economy.”

“Downtown is continuing to evolve and it is rewarding to see that our collective vision for the area is inspiring private owners to re-imagine properties and shape them in a way that further enhances our community,” said Councilmember Jan Perry.

“Thomas Properties Group has extensive experience with complex projects ranging from securing approvals through designing, developing and leasing. It is a highly regarded firm that has a long history in Los Angeles,” said Y. H. Cho, Korean Air’s Chairman and CEO. “They will immediately begin working with the community and the city to begin the approval process.”

Korean Air acquired the current Wilshire Grand Hotel in 1989 under the name of Hilton Hotel & Towers. The airline also owns three hotels in Korea and another in Hawaii.

“It is rare to have the opportunity to shape a new project on a full city block in the heart of a major metropolitan city center such as Los Angeles. With 2.7 acres, we can create a distinctive destination that is interconnected with the existing business, shopping and entertainment venues. As a property and business owner in downtown Los Angeles, we recognize the need for every development to enhance the walkability of our city and create a more vibrant street-level experience,” said James A. Thomas, Chairman and CEO, Thomas Properties Group. “Now is a good time to be working through the approvals of a new development. Together with Korean Air, we are looking to the future of this property and how it can better serve the community of Los Angeles.”

Thomas Properties Group purchased the nearby 2.7 million-square foot City National Plaza in 2003 and has completed a thorough restoration and repositioning of the iconic property. The firm is a leader in the management and development of sustainable and high-performance buildings.

A.C. Martin Partners are the architects designing the plans and buildings. Thomas Properties and A.C. Martin previously worked together on several projects including the CalEPA headquarters building in Sacramento that is the first LEED Platinum-certified high-rise in the United States.

Los Angeles has been the center of Korean Air’s operations in North and South America since its first transpacific flight in 1972. The airline now is the largest transpacific carrier out of LAX and operates 24 weekly flights between Los Angeles and Asia.

“Korean Air has a long and deep-rooted commitment to Los Angeles,” Cho said. “The Korean community here is the largest in the world outside of Seoul, and Korean Air is the largest transpacific carrier out of LAX. We have significant real estate holdings here and have a vested interest in Los Angeles’ success.”

(via Associated Press)

Possibly some great news for the rejuvenination for the downtown LA condo market!

Tags →
A Real Estate Blog by
A Real Estate Blog by CondoDomain