L.A. Stays “Hollywood” When it Comes to Real Estate

By Alex Girda, Associate Editor The city of Los Angeles has its own particular style when it comes to dealing with the real estate market downturn. Recent news regarding significant changes in the way downtown L.A. will look center on the [...]

The city of Los Angeles has its own particular style when it comes to dealing with the real estate market downturn. Recent news regarding significant changes in the way downtown L.A. will look center on the vote for the proposed redevelopment of the Wilshire Grand hotel site. The vote, which ended in a 13-0 score after Councilman Bill Rosendahl, a chief critic of the plan, had left the meeting, was clearly in favor of the flashy project.

The plan would be to demolish the existing hotel at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Figueroa Street to allow the construction of a 65-story office building and a 45-story hotel and condo building. Korean Air, the current owner, in association with the developer, Thomas Properties Group, is planning on introducing an innovative LED-lit digital advertising system on the entire exterior surface of the two buildings. Those opposed to the project claim the flamboyant lighting scheme will turn downtown L.A. into a new Las Vegas, while supporters maintain that the idea will revitalize the area.

Of course, another site may have the opposite effect. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s goal of turning a 21-acre site into a clean tech hub has reportedly taken a serious hit after several failures to lease out the area. The site remains vacant, although it stands at the center of the desired new Clean Tech Corridor. The property was sold to Genton Property Group, a real estate investment firm out of Culver City, in hopes the private sector will have better luck at bringing the ambitious plan to fruition. The deal was quickly ratified and approved by all agencies concerned, which goes to show how the city felt about its failure to redevelop the site. The reported value of the transaction was $15.4 million. The new owner plans to build a $900 million, 500,000-square-foot industrial building there.

For Los Angeles area residents focused on living green, KB Homes announced it is incorporating solar panels into ten of its new developments. The plan would entail application of six-panel photovoltaic solar systems on each of the new homes. The systems, built by SunPower Corp., will be able to produce around 30 percent of daily energy use for square footage ranging between 1,800 and 2,000. Potential buyers will have the option of upgrading to 14 panels, which could bring energy bills to zero.

Although KB Homes has previously offered solar panels, this is the first time the company has opted to introduce it as a standard. The prices of the houses will be adjusted accordingly, but a spokesperson for the company said the appeal of energy savings will compensate for the added premium.