Downtown Expansion to Take Southerly Direction

February 09, 1986|DICK TURPIN

The phrase "going south" has a bad connotation but not in reference to downtown Los Angeles.

With Bunker Hill very well established as the city's financial core, growth and expansion is moving south--downhill, in direction--and creating a new corporate identity area fanning out from 7th and Figueroa streets.

Immediately south of there is an edge of South Park, the city's long-delayed residential revitalization project, planned to bring new life and home ownership into the heart of the city.

Development of South Park under the Community Redevelopment Agency has been moving slowly and is currently undergoing some "fine tuning" in the wake of an Urban Land Institute study last year. Parts of the residential community stretch southward to the Santa Monica Freeway, and its irregular boundaries touch Hill Street on the east and portions of the Harbor Freeway on the west.

The commercial forces at work, at this point, are far ahead of whatever development may come in the merging of office and residential construction efforts. They have renewed the traditional role of 7th Street as the major east-west downtown thoroughfare and moved the "busiest intersection" designation about six blocks westward from Broadway.

The Citicorp Plaza, bordered by the Harbor Freeway, 7th, Figueroa and 8th streets, obviously has an enviable location. The Oxford Properties-Prudential Insurance venture has been very competitive in leasing space while dealing in a tenant's market with so much office space available in new downtown buildings, on sites located from near the Music Center to Olympic Blvd.

Consequently, Citicorp Plaza, still under construction, accounted for 60% of the 1,010,000 square feet of space leased in five new downtown structures last year, a spokeswoman said.

That translates to the leasing of 600,000 of the total 895,058 square feet in the initial tower. The $650-million complex ultimately will have three towers and retail space of 3 million square feet on a 7.9-acre site.

Two new neighboring structures, the 1000 Wilshire Blvd. and Chase Plaza buildings, have also enjoyed a good pace of leasing, having commitments of 225,000 square feet and 165,000 square feet in the total available space in their respective buildings of 421,586 square feet and 435,000 square feet.

A survey among tenants in Citicorp Plaza and experienced downtown office space brokers (not connected with the project) fortifies Citicorp's contention of being in the right location at the right time in the making over of downtown and capitalizing on it through an aggressive leasing policy.

There appeared to be consensus that the Plaza's prime site will serve as an anchor or "gateway" to the South Park project, linking business and residential areas. For instance, a major shopping center within the Plaza, with May Co. and Bullock's as anchor stores, would be within walking distance of South Park apartments and condominiums.

Brokers agreed that once Bunker Hill's office spaces are taken, there will be no way to go but "south." One described any westward movement--across the Harbor Freeway--as a "psychological barrier." The natural growth of the city will be to the south, he added, with the Citicorp complex serving as a transitional factor between the business area and the new and emerging South Park.

Another broker cited clients' concerns for "walking up Bunker Hill." With this city's non-habit of walking in even level areas, that seems like a weak argument. Another concern was that the Harbor Freeway is a barrier to any westward movement.

Tenants having leased space in the Plaza had these comments to make:

" . . . Citicorp was going to be more the center of things in the long run than up on the hill."

"It's closer to the freeway."

Also, the presence of government buildings near and on Bunker Hill was cited as limiting any further major developments there or northward.

Finally, another tenant said, "All I know is that Los Angeles is going to go from here to 9th Street next."

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