By Roger Vincent
6:10 AM PST, January 20, 2013
Plans are moving forward for construction of two 46-story residential towers behind the landmark Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Century City following the unanimous approval of the project last week by the Los Angeles City Council.
Developer Next Century Associates plans to start work next year on the $2-billion project designed by Pei Cobb Freed architects. In addition to the towers, the project is to include a 100,000-square-foot retail plaza with shops and restaurants and more than two acres of public open space with fountains and courtyards.
Under the plan, the front of the 19-story Century Plaza that now caters to arriving auto traffic will be made over to include cafe seating and walkways. The crescent-shaped hotel, which has hosted many high-profile visitors and events since 1966, will be renovated, and the number of rooms for rent will be reduced to 394 from 726. The reconfigured building also will include 63 luxury condominiums for owners who may live there full time.
The swimming pool is to be removed to make way for the new towers and then re-created in two pools on the hotel roof. Plans also include a proposed Metro station for an eventual Westside subway.
That plan reflects a shift in urban planning conventions since Century City was built on the former backlot of what was then 20th Century Fox Studios on the western edge of Beverly Hills.
“Century City was designed in the '60s as city of the future based around auto-centric Los Angeles where the boundaries of L.A. seemed limitless,” said Michael Rosenfeld, managing partner of Next Century. “People would motor in from the suburbs, pull into podium garages and then go up elevators to modern skyscrapers.”
As a result, few people were seen walking the streets of Century City. New Century hopes to stimulate foot traffic with its plazas and the addition of shops on Constellation Boulevard across the street from the Westfield Century Plaza mall.
The project was the result of years of collaboration among the developer, the city, architectural preservation groups, neighboring homeowners and labor organizations. Rosenfeld originally proposed demolishing the hotel, but backlash from preservationists and neighbors prompted him to rethink the scheme.
“I'm kind of delighted,” said Jan Reichmann, president of Comstock Hills Homeowners Assn. She said she appreciated the changes Rosenfeld made in the proposed towers to make them appear slimmer and more striking.
Next Century Associates, which owns the hotel, is a partnership between Rosenfeld's Woodridge Capital Partners and funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management.
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