Spring Street tower in downtown L.A. to become creative offices

A Spring Street office building completed in 1915 has been purchased by a developer who plans to improve it as gentrification sweeps gradually through downtown Los Angeles’ formerly depressed historic financial district.

The Corporation Building, at 724 S. Spring St., was acquired by Izek Shomof, one of the most active developers of aging properties in the city’s historic core. Shomof said he plans to renovate the 13-story tower and rent office space to creative firms.

Terms of the sale by Spring & Main Property were not disclosed, but real estate experts familiar with the neighborhood valued the deal at about $10 million.

Spring Street was known as the Wall Street of the West in the early 20th century but fell from favor in the decades after World War II as financial firms and other white collar companies moved to newer buildings close to the 110 Freeway or left downtown.

The Corporation Building, like others in the area, came to house garment manufacturing in recent years, though it still bears the painted sign of a longtime former occupant that says “Dr. Campbell Credit Dentist.”

Renovations will include retooling the ground floor retail space, Shomof said. “We’re talking to restaurants and sidewalk cafes.”

Some “creative” tenants, including Smart Architecture, are already in the building, which has no heating or air conditioning. “It’s very bare-bones, but it gets great light from the large windows,” said Douglas Hanson, a partner at the architectural firm.

Many former offices downtown have been turned into apartments or condominiums, but Hanson said he is pleased that the Corporation Building is to be revived as offices.

“We need to stay away from converting everything to housing,” he said. “We need a mix of people living and working in the neighborhood.”

Prospective buyers for the Corporation Building included hoteliers, real estate broker Ed Rosenthal of New Downtown Brokerage said.

“There is a lot of activity and changes in ownership in the historical area by Spring and Main streets,” Rosenthal said. “The restaurant and boutique hotel scene is alive.”

Ace Hotel, a Portland, Ore., chain of boutique inns catering to the young and hip, is building a 180-room outpost in the historic United Artists building nearby at Broadway and 9th Street. It is set to open in the fall.

The Shomof family has been redeveloping properties downtown since 1999, Shomof said. Projects include the revival of Spring Street in the blocks near the former Pacific Stock Exchange. In March, a partnership including the Shomofs bought three run-down early 20th century hotels around 5th and Los Angeles streets that it plans to improve.

Long Beach apartment complex bought

Irvine developer Western National Realty Advisors bought a 206-unit apartment complex in Long Beach for $46 million.

Western National bought the property, at 1613 Ximeno Ave., from Archstone, a Colorado apartment developer and operator. The new owner named the complex built in the 1980s the Landing at Long Beach.

Western National plans to update the 145,000-square-foot garden-style complex, said Jerry LaPointe, vice president of Western National Realty Advisors, an affiliate of apartment investor Western National Group.

The acquisition is the sixth in Western National Realty Advisors’ private-equity real estate Fund II, La Pointe said. “We are actively pursuing additional acquisitions.”