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Realtech: Striving to Be Different

April 21, 1985|EVELYN De WOLFE

"We either want to be first or we want to be different," mused David Wilstein, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Realtech Development & Construction Co., that owns and manages more than 2 million square feet of commercial space in Los Angeles.

Wilstein was describing the Los Angeles-based company's general philosophy, particularly in relation to its latest project, the $65-million Maple Plaza, a three-story, 280,000-square-foot garden office building to be located on a 3.3-acre site at the intersection of Maple and Alden drives, across from the Beverly Hills Tennis Club.

"This will be the first office structure of its size to be built in Beverly Hills in 10 years, and we are looking to break ground in May with completion in November of 1986," he said.

Traditionally, Beverly Hills has been a modest market as far as the size of its commercial properties go, due not only to small numbers of parcels available but also the city's limited and restrictive zoning, except for the periods of leniency that have allowed for construction of larger projects. Most "large" office buildings in Beverly Hills have only about 60,000 square feet because the city limits construction to three stories and square footage to twice the size of a lot.

Realtech's recently appointed president, Arnold S. Rosenstein, who also is working closely on the Maple Plaza, described the project as an unusual opportunity for Beverly Hills as well as Realtech.

"It is an opportunity that we have to provide the city with an office building of sufficient scale and scope and enhancing collateral services," he said, adding that the planning team is considering a prestige business club as an ancillary amenity.

"We look to do something a bit different with each of our projects," Rosenstein added. He gave as example the World Savings Center tower at Wilshire and San Vicente boulevards in Brentwood, developed by Realtech in a joint venture with Olympia & York California Equities Corp.

"It was the first of its kind west of the San Diego Freeway but our success with leasing that building has spawned other buildings along Wilshire. Another of our projects is Century City Medical Plaza, in an area most think of only as a center for office and residential space."

Designed by Maxwell Starkman Associates, which also designed the World Savings Center, Maple Plaza will have a somewhat contemporary "mission" architectural flavor. Looking south along Maple Drive from the intersection at Alden, pedestrians will see a granite facade of Spanish pink highlighted with window openings, like house windows, to harmonize with the adjoining residential neighborhood.

A setback area of semireflective blue glass topped by a distinctive glass arch, is a major design element and forms the skylights for the lobby areas underneath. A setback wall of blue glass will serve as the main automobile entrance to two levels of subterranean parking.

The building pattern repeats itself with two more granite projections and another skylight-topped entry in between. Interconnected courtyards with seating areas will be landscaped to create a tropical garden setting with brick pavers and precast concrete walkways laid out in radial patterns. Two main entranceways will lead into the 45-foot skylighted gallerias, adding to the feeling of openness.

The Maple Plaza property, a former site of Litton Industries' office and manufacturing facilities, is located in an area that was known as Beverly Hills' "industrial triangle," and also housed utility and maintenance services. "Rising real estate values and changing economics have led to the area's inevitable redevelopment," Wilstein said.

The Beverly Hills Civic Center, now under construction in a major expansion, is only a block away, Wilstein pointed out, as is Burton Way, where the L'Ermitage Hotel has become a landmark soon to be joined by two other luxury hotels.

Leasing for Maple Plaza will be handled by Realtech, the managing partner of Maple Plaza Ltd., the entity developing the property. Tishman Construction Corp. of Los Angeles has been selected as the general contractor and Chase Manhattan Bank is providing construction financing. Landscaping has been assigned to POD Inc. of Los Angeles.

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