By Roger Vincent
1:20 PM PST, February 10, 2013
An unusually configured office, retail and residential building in downtown Santa Monica has been acquired by a Los Angeles developer who intends to figure out what it looked like 50 years ago and reestablish its authenticity.
Philip Orosco and his firm Pacshore Partners paid the Lionstone Group $20 million for the 631 Wilshire Blvd. structure. The four-story building looks art deco, a pre-World War II design style.
However, the facade probably dates to the 1990s, when a previous owner spent about $4 million adding a rooftop recreation room and two floors of apartments to the then two-story building, he said.
“It’s a confusing piece of architecture,” Orosco said. He plans to create a rear entrance for the office space and convert the 4,000-square-foot third-floor recreation room into creative office space with private roof decks facing the newly renovated Reed Park.
The original building was completed in the late 1950s with shops on the ground floor and offices upstairs. Orosco plans to spend millions of dollars to renovate it and make it look more like it did in the 1950s -- whatever that turns out to be.
“We’re going to peel back the years to understand what it was and re-envision what it could be in the future,” he said. The original materials were brick, concrete and wood.
The building’s neighborhood around the corner of Wilshire and Seventh Street is being transformed by the expected 2015 arrival of light rail service in Santa Monica, said real estate broker Jim Jacobsen of Industry Partners, who helped arrange the sale.
A hotel is planned across the street, he said, and several apartment buildings are scheduled for construction nearby.
“With the train coming” to Santa Monica, Jacobsen said, “densities are increasing and it’s becoming a real walking city.”
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