Work is finally underway on a long-delayed $300-million residential skyscraper on a prime parcel at the gateway to Century City and Beverly Hills.
The 39-story apartment tower is being built by Miami developer Crescent Heights at 10000 Santa Monica Blvd. years after a high-profile struggle for the land that has long been considered one of the most valuable development sites in the country.
Century City is among the top office markets in the region, home to many well-known entertainment businesses including motion picture studio 20th Century Fox and talent firm Creative Artists Agency. Across Santa Monica Boulevard lies the exclusive Los Angeles Country Club.
The 10000 Santa Monica Blvd. site was last occupied by a nondescript office building erected in 1970. It was known best as the home to a fancy restaurant called Jimmy's where elite showbiz and political figures dined for two decades.
Jimmy's closed in 2000 and the building was torn down a few years later, setting the stage for an epic fight over rights to build the next big thing at the entrance to Century City.
In a hotly contested sale in 2006, New York real estate mogul Donald Trump was among the losing bidders in a 52-round auction that pushed the price of the 2.4-acre lot up to a heady $110.2 million.
Winner SunCal Cos. of Irvine announced plans for an ultra-deluxe condominium tower designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel. The subsequent housing crash erased demand for condos, however, and SunCal lost control of the property after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2008.
Crescent Heights bought the land in late 2010 for $59 million, and went to work planning the apartment tower now being built. Construction should be complete by 2016. Rents won't be set until the building is close to opening but developers hope the rates will be affordable for people who work in the neighborhood.
The building was originally planned as a condominium tower, so Crescent Heights will build the 283 units to condo standards in case the local for-sale market picks up, company representative Steve Afriat said.
"If market conditions change, they could always decide to sell the units," he said.
The building will have one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments intended to appeal to young and middle-aged professionals who work in Century City, he said. Empty-nesters who may want to downsize from large homes nearby may also find the tower appealing.
"Residents will enjoy walking distance proximity to both Century City and Beverly Hills shopping and offices," Afriat said.
The units will range in size from 1,500 square feet to more than 3,000 square feet.
Building amenities are to include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, more than an acre of landscaped gardens and a tennis court. The second floor will house an expansive lounge that tenants may use to host private events such as birthday parties.
The building design by San Francisco architecture firm Handel Architects incorporates floor-to-ceiling windows in an exterior glass skin intended to create a luminous, transparent and energy-efficient facade. Unlike Century City skyscrapers nearby, 10000 Santa Monica will not have a flat roof.
Crescent City garnered written support for the project from Comstock Homeowners Assn. and Tract No. 7260 Assn. Inc., which represents several Westside homeowners' groups.
"Principals of this company are committed to working with the community to provide benefits of lasting importance for our schools, parks, libraries, police and firefighters," wrote Mike Eveloff of Tract No. 7260 in 2011.
Other large-scale projects are in the pipeline for Century City. Developer Century Associates expects to begin construction next year on a $2-billion project to upgrade the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel on Avenue of the Stars and erect two 46-story towers behind it.
Another big project making its way through the city planning process is JMB Realty's proposed 730,000-square-foot, $350-million Century City Center office high-rise. The 37-story tower would be built on a vacant lot on Avenue of the Stars at Constellation Boulevard.