Downtown Los Angeles Emerges as Hot Destination for Hollywood Types

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By Kathy McDonald

Resurgent real estate development is transforming the city’s core

Downtown los angeles is getting a makeover to the tune of $16.5 billion in new development. Changes includes the addition of a slew of mixed-used projects combining ground floor retail and upper level living, a new Whole Foods supermarket, sprouting indie restaurants, three just-launched breweries, art galleries, boutiques and the revitalized Grand Central Market.

Apartments are clocking in at a furious pace as more than 10,000 units are slated to be built and fill pent-up demand. New construction includes Greenland USA’s three mega-towers at Metropolis in South Park, representing a $1 billion investment. And on downtown’s northern edge, the Arts District offers hip lifestyle options from the blocks-long One Santa Fe to the Garey Building’s upcoming 320 apartments.

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“The majority of new development is going to be residential,” says Hana Cha, managing director of the Agency’s new development group, exclusive listing agents for the Staples Center-adjacent Oceanwide Plaza that will include two condo towers when completed.

Condo prices in downtown L.A. were up 15% in 2015 and overall, property values have risen more than 150% over the last 17 years, per statistics culled by the downtown Business Improvement District. Ultimately the slew of buildings on the boards will offer buyers increased selection as projects like Metropolis and Trumark Urban’s TEN50 welcome owners.

Greenland USA’s Metropolis is slated to open later this year: the 6.3-acre, 1,500-unit project north of L.A. Live will encompass a 38-story residential tower and a 350-room Hotel Indigo. Within the same mega-project are 40- and 56-storey towers; currently residences range from $590,000 to $2.3 million (excluding penthouses). “Buyers are as diverse as Los Angeles’ population,” says Metropolis VP Tami Scully.

She adds that 70% of the first tower’s residences are under contract. Demand has risen as no new condos (as opposed to adaptive re-use projects) have come to market since the Ritz-Carlton Residences’ completion.

In the past, few high-profile showbizzers lived downtown, although Johnny Depp, Diane Keaton, Vincent Gallo and Nicolas Cage have been linked to marquee properties like the Eastern Columbia Building and Biscuit Lofts. For now, industryites are primarily visible at the annual Emmys kudofest, sporting events (Lakers/Clippers/Kings) and as cultural benefactors.

Also, the members-only Soho Warehouse (a Soho House outpost) will open later this year in the Arts District. Current residents, like dancer-choreographer Marc Spaulding of One Santa Fe, exemplify downtown’s lure for talent: “It’s stimulating energy goes hand-in-hand with creativity,” says Spaulding.

“It’s not a cookie-cutter space,” adds entrepreneur Arnold Myint of his historic core loft residence. Dave Kessinger of the Arts District’s Kesspro Studios has seen an “explosion” of businesses. “There’s now so much infrastructure for living down here, people don’t have to go anywhere else,” he says.

“The market is restoring itself,” says Mike Deasy, CEO of Deasy Penner & Partners. “Until recently it’s been a conundrum: will luxury buyers buy without the amenities they would expect and will amenities go there without condos?” Deasy is repping a 2,100 sq-ft. penthouse atop the 1898-built Douglas Building for $2.1 million. With its exposed structural elements the residence is a classic example of adaptive reuse.

Downtown offers “diversity and endless amenities in a very compact area,” says Arden Hearing, managing director for Trumark Urban, developers of TEN50, a 150-unit complex at 10th and Grand, slated for occupancy in late 2016. Residences in the 25-story tower are 600 square feet to 4,000 square feet; community extras include a yoga garden, private screening room and a drone-ready landing pad. “The appeal is the ability to live a full, creative life.”

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