Village Concept an Urban First : $500-Million Mixed-Use Project Proposed for South Park Area

Times Staff Writer

City Centre Development, a California limited partnership, has acquired nearly a full block bordering the growing South Park area of downtown Los Angeles and plans to break ground this year on a $500-million mixed-use project.

Subject to approval by the city Redevelopment Agency and the city, the multiphase development will be master-planned by Parkhill Partners, CCD's development company. Parkhill Partners consists of Californians James R. Miller and Ronald S. Lushing.

Their plan is to develop what they term "an urban village" or "world-class center" with apartments, condominiums, offices, retail space (cinemas, shops, restaurants and a major anchor tenant), and a 500- to 600-room hotel.

"All these uses have never before been combined on a single location in downtown L. A.," Miller said.

More to Be Acquired

In addition, the site represents what he calls "one of the largest single ownerships of property currently downtown."

The 161,000-square-foot site is between 8th, 9th and Francisco streets and the Harbor Freeway. The developer is also planning to acquire an additional 50,000 square feet for a total developable land mass of nearly five acres.

When completed, the project is expected to have about 2.1 million square feet of offices, 275,000 square feet of retail space, 175,000 square feet of residential units and a 500,000- to 600,000-square-foot convention-oriented, first-class hotel.

The project site is only two blocks from the expanding Los Angeles Convention Center. It is 2 1/2 blocks from the Metro Rail station under construction at 7th and Flower streets.

Gateway to Downtown

The project also will be, as Miller expresses it, "most visible and accessible to people coming north on the Harbor Freeway." In this sense, he and Lushing consider the project a gateway to downtown.

They also view the property as the best development site downtown, and because of this, they plan to begin Phase 1--a 28-story, 400,000-square-foot office tower--without pre-leasing.

They hope to start Phase 2, the retail and residential space, in 1989 and the second phase of office space in 1991. Parkhill Partners will negotiate a lease or sale of the hotel site to a hotel developer/investor.

The 161,000-square-foot parcel already acquired is used exclusively for parking. So, Lushing said, "there will be no lawsuits over displacing residents, no preservation problems and no disruption." The sellers are from Singapore.

'A Lot of Competition'

"There was a lot of competition for the property," Miller said. "I worked on it a long time."

"Jim deserves accolades," Lushing said teasingly, while remaining serious. "It was only through his persuasive and charming ways that we were successful (in acquiring the site)." Acquest International represented both sides of the transaction.

As president and chief executive officer of Alpha Omega Development Corp., Miller, a 38-year-old attorney formerly with the U. S. Securities & Exchange Commission, has been in commercial real estate development for the past 3 1/2 years. He has been a resident of Southern California for 11 years.

"I enticed Ron out of semi-retirement with this project," he said.

Library Commissioner

Lushing, 55, was president and chief executive officer of Marlborough Development Corp. before he sold the residential development firm in 1980 to a subsidiary of Olympia & York. A lifelong resident of Los Angeles, he is president of the city's Board of Library Commissioners.

"I was active in civic and political affairs and I liked my life style," he said, "but when Jim told me he could tie up this property, I saw an extraordinary opportunity to develop a landmark center for the city."

As of last week, the project had no architects, and it had no name. "We probably won't call it Lushing Meadows," Lushing said with a laugh.

Has Favorite Name

"Mr. Lushing has a favorite name, but it hasn't been approved yet," Miller said. The name: Park Place.

Whatever the center is called, Miller and Lushing hope to create what they describe as a "stay-after-6 p.m. atmosphere" there.

It's a downtown goal long sought by the Community Redevelopment Agency.

And it's a goal Miller and Lushing anticipate having fun achieving.

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