Chinese developer City Century filed an application with city officials this week to build three residential towers across from L.A. Live as breakneck growth rolls on through downtown Los Angeles.
The complex, called Olympia, could cost as much as $1 billion and house as many as 1,367 apartments or condominiums over shops and restaurants along Olympic Boulevard.
It is the third high-rise residential project in the works downtown for City Century, the Los Angeles subsidiary of Shanghai real estate developer Sheng-Long Group.
"We're seeing opportunities in L.A. as the entertainment, media and fashion hub," said Stuart Morkun, executive vice president of City Century.
"There is a growing desire by a new generation of professionals who want an urban lifestyle," Morkun said. "Downtown can provide that."
The design for Olympia by architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill calls for slim towers of 43, 53 and 65 stories that would be connected at the lower levels with dining, shopping and landscaped outdoor spaces.
The complex at 1001 W. Olympic Blvd., just east of the 110 Freeway, would replace a medical office building and parking lots. City Century could secure construction permits within 18 months and open Olympia about four years later, Morkun said.
City Century will decide later whether to rent or sell the units, he said.
The Olympia is "probably the next logical step for the area," said Los Angeles real estate consultant Greg Fischer, because it would help connect L.A. Live with the massive Metropolis condominium and hotel project under construction to the north by another Chinese developer.
"It's also another step in the right direction of re-patronizing downtown as the center of the city as opposed to the Westside," said Fischer, who is not involved with Olympia.
"Downtown is the junkyard dog saying give it to me," he said. "The Westside is the poodle that's had enough."
Nearly 6,000 residential units are under construction or have been recently completed downtown, he said. Competition has caused leasing and sales to slow down a bit, but developers keep forging ahead because they believe demand is deep.
"No one is saying this isn't a good idea" to keep building, Fischer said.
City Century hopes to attract what Morkun called "the emergent creative class" in such fields as entertainment, media, gaming, fashion and technology. Other City Century projects in L.A. include condo towers on south Grand Avenue and in Koreatown.
Part of the lure at Olympia would be outdoor terraces at various levels to take advantage of the mild climate, something most skyscrapers don't have. There might be an outdoor swimming pool on the 30th floor, for example.
"We are trying to create a community that is conducive to the way people live their lives here," Morkun said.