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Plans Build for Downtown L.A.

Times Staff Writer

Efforts to make the Staples Center area of downtown Los Angeles a hub for housing, retail and entertainment got a boost Monday when a New York developer announced plans to build two condominium towers, shops and restaurants across the street from the arena.

Moinian Group, one of the country’s largest privately held real estate firms, said it paid $80 million for four acres at the corner of 11th and Figueroa streets and plans two residential towers of 45 stories and 33 stories with more than 700 units combined.

The land, sold by Staples owner Anschutz Entertainment Group, was previously slated to be developed as housing by KB Home and Lennar Corp. It is across the street diagonally from the $2.5-billion LA Live development under construction north of Staples.

“We have a great deal of faith in the redevelopment of downtown Los Angeles and we think we can add to what is happening in a significant way,” said Oskar Brecher, director of development at Moinian, which has major luxury high-rise residential and hotel projects in New York.

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The company expects to break ground in 2007 and complete the nearly 2 million-square-foot project within three years. It was founded in 1990 by Joseph Moinian, who leveraged his earnings in the fashion industry to acquire loft buildings in Manhattan. Today, the company owns and manages more than $8 billion in residential, retail and hotel properties including the former Downtown Athletic Club in New York, home of the Heisman Trophy.

KB and Lennar’s planned project unraveled after KB withdrew to instead form a partnership with AEG to develop a hotel and condo tower at L.A. Live.

Moinian’s residential towers would house three types of units: lofts that could include condominiums, penthouses and so-called live-work units that could house small businesses. The target buyers are young professionals who work downtown. Prices are likely to range from $500,000 to $2 million.

At street level would be 250,000 square feet of retail space earmarked for a specialty grocery store, health club, shops and restaurants.

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Several buyers bid on the property, said broker Rich Mayo of O’Donnell/Atkins, who represented Moinian in the deal.

“It demonstrates there is a lot of confidence in downtown,” Mayo said, even as residential builders have been pulling back in other regions.

Moinian also plans to develop condominiums and perhaps a small hotel at a nearby site it recently acquired at 808 S. Olive St., Brecher said. That project would include 250 to 300 condos and cost as much as $100 million.

Partnering with Moinian on the Los Angeles projects is investor Henry Shahery, a partner at Miami-based Cabi Developers, which is a subsidiary of GICSA of Mexico City. Other downtown projects are being considered by the team, Shahery said.

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“It’s a growing market and we see opportunity,” he said.

AEG, the developer of Staples Center and L.A. Live, has been selling land in the area with the intent that it be used for upscale housing. Developers have completed one condominium tower and have three more under construction on former AEG property.

AEG is the sports and entertainment subsidiary of the Anschutz Co., which is owned by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz. Among AEG’s properties are Home Depot Center in Carson and Nokia Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas. It is developing arenas in London, Berlin and Kansas City and owns the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and four Major League soccer franchises.

The company also has increased the housing component it is building at L.A. Live to about 2,000 apartments and condos by reducing planned office space and other uses, bringing the total number of housing units planned around the arena to about 3,000.

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The strategy, said AEG Vice President Ted Tanner, “is to build a vibrant residential community -- and add a lot more patrons for our restaurants, clubs and other venues” at L.A. Live.

The tourist-oriented “sports-entertainment” hub is slated to have a 54-story hotel and condo tower, 7,100-seat live performance theater, broadcast facilities, a 14-screen movie theater and nearly a dozen restaurants and clubs.

Excavation of the L.A. Live site is underway and completion is expected in phases starting in fall 2007. Tanner said AEG hoped to start work next year with co-developer KB Home on the hotel and condo portion of the project that is expected to house a JW Marriott and a Ritz-Carlton with a combined total of 1,000 rooms.


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