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Vacant building in downtown L.A. to become offices

Long-vacant Art Deco-style building in downtown L.A. to become offices catering to tenants in creative firms

A long-vacant Art Deco-style building on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles is making a comeback amid the revival of the city's historic entertainment district.

The six-story tower at 537 S. Broadway opened in 1931 as an outpost of F.&W. Grand-Silver Stores, a national chain of five-and-dime stores that sold discounted household goods. The building also once held Hartfield's Department Store.

It was designed by prominent architects Percy A. Eisen and Albert R. Walker, who are known for designing the Fine Arts Building and the James Oviatt Building downtown and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

New owner King's Arch of Beverly Hills, which recently bought the building from Begonia Development for $7.35 million, plans to renovate the property and turn it into offices catering to tenants in creative businesses.

"We've successfully repositioned several vacant buildings in Hollywood and Beverly Hills into just that product type," said Richard Shamooilian, a partner at King's Arch, "and are fully focused on making sure we do the same on Broadway."

After a makeover costing as much as $5 million, the building will have refinished concrete floors, exposed brick walls, operable windows and high ceilings. It will have roof decks on the fourth and six floors with such amenities as seating, landscaping, televisions and ping pong tables.

There will be a seismic upgrade and restoration of the gold leaf and other distinctive details contributing to its Art Deco flair.

The ground floor and basement will probably be rented to a single retailer, Shamooilian said. He hopes to have the building open by the end of the year.

After decades of neglect, the Broadway corridor is on the verge of a major revival. The new owners of the former May Co. department store a few blocks away recently announced plans to turn the 1.1-million-square-foot complex into offices, a hotel and a market.

A former office building and theater on Broadway was converted to a trendy Ace Hotel that enticed high-end retailers and restaurateurs to open nearby. The historic Grand Central Market is in the process of being upgraded to a fancy food court.

"We are beyond excited to be participating in the redevelopment of Broadway," Shamooilian said.

roger.vincent@latimes.com

Twitter: @rogervincent

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