Koreatown, Santa Monica apartment projects underway


One of L.A.’s most active apartment developers has broken ground on two substantial projects as the rental housing market remains vibrant for tenants, builders and investors.

Century West Partners is building $170 million worth of apartments in Santa Monica and in the Koreatown district of Los Angeles. Both neighborhoods have shown strong demand for apartments, said Steve Fifield, managing partner of Century West.

The bigger of the company’s new projects is in Koreatown. Called K2 LA, it will be a 303-unit complex on South Berendo Street at Wilshire Boulevard, next to the historic Talmadge apartment building. The Talmadge was built in 1922 by a Hollywood movie producer married to screen star Norma Talmadge.


K2 LA will consist of two seven-story buildings. The first at 688 S. Berendo is planned to be completed by early 2014, and the second phase at 660 S. Berendo is expected to open soon after, Fifield said. The $110-million complex will have a rooftop spa and a deck with outdoor grilling spaces.

In downtown Santa Monica, the developers are working on the Gibson, a 106-unit complex in two five-story buildings at 1317 7th St. and 702 Arizona Ave. The $60-million Gibson, which is to include ground-floor shops, is scheduled for completion late next summer. It will have an outdoor pool and bicycle storage center.

The pipeline of new apartments has only recently begun to flow in Southern California, Fifield said. During the last housing boom, many developers shifted to building luxury condominiums as rising prices for land and construction drove building costs up.

“We have had very little new rental housing built in L.A. since 2004, and we are playing catch-up,” Fifield said.

Apartment construction will continue in the months ahead, said finance specialist Brian Eisendrath of CBRE Group Inc., who helped find funding for Century West’s projects.

Many neighborhoods have more demand than supply, and investors consider multifamily housing a relatively safe and desirable asset class, Eisendrath said.


“Banks are aggressively lending on ground-up projects in good locations,” he said. “As the economy improves there will be more demand.”

Century West also broke ground in May on the Avant, a $170-million luxury apartment and retail complex near the Los Angeles Convention Center on Figueroa and Flower streets in downtown L.A. The first phase of that project should be done by the end of next year.

Shopping, entertainment complex going up in South Gate

Work has begun on a regional shopping and entertainment center called the Azalea on the site of a former pipe manufacturing plant in South Gate.

The 380,000-square-foot shopping center at the northwest corner of Firestone Boulevard and Atlantic

Avenue has been valued at $80 million. It’s being developed by Primestor Development Inc. of Los Angeles.

The 32-acre site was an Ameron pipe manufacturing facility from 1928 to 2005, when Ameron ceased operations and demolished most of the site’s structures. Additions to the site through the years included a gas station, and the property needed a substantial cleanup of hazardous material before the latest construction could begin.

The design of the Azalea calls for six major retailers, and committed tenants include a Wal-Mart, Marshall’s, Petco and CVS, according to Nadel Architects. There will also be 100,000 square feet of smaller stores and restaurants in the mall, plus additional free-standing retail buildings.

Construction is expected to be completed in early 2014.