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Vacant lot in Koreatown is sold to developer

A prominent vacant lot on Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown was bought for $21 million by a local developer who plans to build a retail and residential project and help create a public park.

Don Hankey bought the land at 3670 Wilshire Blvd. on Wednesday from Shin Young America, a South Korea-based company that bought the site for $45 million in the mid-2000s, real estate broker Jimmy Chai said.

Shin Young had dramatic plans for the 2.2-acre site east of Western Avenue calling for dual condominium and hotel towers as tall as 41 stories. The project was delayed by legal wrangling and halted after the condo market collapsed during the recession, said Chai, of Cushman & Wakefield.

Hankey plans to develop the half of the lot fronting on Wilshire Boulevard and sell the back half that faces 7th Street to the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, said Ed Johnson, a representative of City Councilman Herb Wesson.

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The CRA’s $10-million purchase has been delayed for months by state budget uncertainties but could close within 90 days, Johnson said.

Hankey controls several companies including North Hollywood Toyota. He could not be reached for comment.

The mid-Wilshire neighborhood is one of the most densely developed in Southern California and has few parks, CRA Chairman Kenneth H. Fearn said. The planned park “has an immense amount of support from the Korean and Latino communities in the area,” he said.

Shin Young cut its expected price for the property in part to encourage the park, said Chai, who represented the buyer. “They feel like they had an obligation to Koreatown.”

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The stretch of Wilshire around Western was historically an upscale office and retail district but has evolved into a residential neighborhood as well. Hundreds of apartments have already been built on the blocks around the intersection that houses a subway station.

“This is starting to become the center of Koreatown,” Chai said.

roger.vincent@latimes.com


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