Apartment, retail complex underway in Palms


Work has begun on a $30-million apartment and retail complex in Palms near a planned station for the Expo Line that will connect downtown Los Angeles with Santa Monica.

Frost/Chaddock Developers of Los Angeles is building the five-story complex at 3425 Motor Ave., about a quarter mile from a light rail station at Motor and National Boulevard set to open in 2016.

The 115-unit project will house studio and one-bedroom apartments intended to appeal to young professionals.


“We believe the project will encourage pedestrian activity along Motor Avenue,” said James Frost, a principal at Frost/Chaddock.

As designed by Killefer Flammang Architects, the street-level entrance will be flanked by shops or restaurants and lead to an interior courtyard. It will also have a rooftop garden for tenants and underground parking.

The project is to be finished by May 2014.

Palms is near Culver City — where Expo Line service from downtown currently ends — and is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The first Palms train station opened in 1875 and closed in 1953. The old depot was moved to Heritage Square Museum in Montecito Heights, where it is preserved.

Vacant downtown L.A. building for sale

A long-vacant 1920s office building in a recovering neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles has hit the market for almost $14 million as the city’s historic core attracts new residents and investors.

The 13-story Commercial Exchange Building — which was once cut in half vertically and shrunk in size — has been mostly empty for at least two decades, real estate broker Phillip Sample of CBRE Group Inc. said. In recent weeks, however, more than 100 potential buyers have toured the property at 416 W. 8th St.


“We’ve got a lot of boutique hotels looking at this,” Sample said.

Other possible buyers are considering turning it into apartments, creative offices or student housing.

The blocks east of Staples Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center have seen a flurry of real estate activity recently. More than 1,000 new apartment units are set for construction there over the next 30 months, and one of the largest planned retail and housing projects is across the street from the Commercial Exchange Building.

The building was completed in 1924 after that southern section of downtown Los Angeles was rezoned from an upscale residential neighborhood to commercial use, local historian Greg Fischer said.

“After World War I, the city fathers decided we needed a larger downtown,” he said.

City officials decided to widen Olive Street in the mid-1930s, and the owners of the Commercial Exchange Building at 8th and Olive were obligated to remove a nearly 10-foot slice from the middle of the building. Engineers reunited the two pieces by sliding the western portion east, thereby opening up more space on Olive Street. The process cost $60,000, The Times reported in 1935.

Owl Drug Co. was once headquartered in the building, Sample said. Another occupant was “Tarzan” author Edgar Rice Burroughs, who operated his own publishing company.

That area of downtown fell out of favor in the decades after World War II as department stores followed their customers to the suburbs and white-collar businesses moved to newer offices closer to the 110 Freeway.

Selling the Commercial Exchange Building is a partnership called Spring Seventh Loft, Sample said. The sellers expect to arrange a deal by next month.

Burbank apartment building is sold

A 1970s Burbank apartment building with an expansive penthouse intended to be occupied by the owner has been purchased by Champion Real Estate Co. for $15.6 million.

The 62-unit complex at 600 E. Olive St. is mostly made up of two-bedroom, two-bath apartments, but it also has an 8,000-square-foot penthouse with a rooftop deck and private swimming pool, real estate broker Tyler Stevens of Lee & Associates said.

“It reflects an era gone by when builders constructed apartment buildings with an owner unit, and this particular owner unit was highly unusual,” Stevens said.

The complex was built by August Bacchetta in 1973 and continued to be owned by his family until the sale. Champion plans an extensive renovation of the apartments, Stevens said.

Los Angeles-based Champion said it intends to acquire as much as $500 million worth of real estate in the next five years