Developer Don E. Bowers lives in Palos Verdes Estates, the very model of an upwardly mobile suburb; developer Wayne Ratkovich lives in Hancock Park, one of the city's finest close-in residential areas.
Their choice of residences may or may not influence their choice of developments--Bowers with suburban projects, Ratkovich with urban ones--but it appears to be more than a coincidence.
Ratkovich recently formed the Ratkovich Co. to focus on working "with institutional investors to acquire and develop major projects, primarily urban in character."
The firm is based on the 12th floor of the 60-year-old Fine Arts Building at 911 West 7th St. The same building houses Ratkovich, Bowers & Perez, now headed by Bowers as president. Ratkovich retains the title of chairman of the board of the firm. Rodolfo Perez moves up to Bowers' old post of executive vice president.
In separate interviews, the two developers explained the reason for forming the new firm.
"My personal interests have been in urban projects rather than suburban office developments," Ratkovich said, adding that his major project now is completing the Wiltern complex at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue.
The renovated Wiltern Theatre is a success, but the office, retail and--possibly--hotel space in the mixed-use project remains to be developed.
"We've got uses for the ground floor on the Wilshire frontage that will energize the area, including a 6,700-square-foot restaurant operated by the owners and operators of the Cadillac Bar in San Francisco," Ratkovich said. "We also are leasing space to a cookie store and a yogurt store."
To Ratkovich, who--along with Bowers, Perez and others--gained recognition for the restoration of the Oviatt Building on Olive Street, the Fine Arts Building and the Pellissier Building/Wiltern Theatre complex, Wilshire Boulevard is still the "grand boulevard" of Los Angeles.
"It's the street of the Wiltern, Bullock's Wilshire, the Los Altos Apartments, Perino's, the Ambassador, the County Museum of Art and Miracle Mile, and it will regain its position as a major street in Los Angeles," Ratkovich said.
Bowers said that the location of his current major project, the third phase of the Von Karman Corporate Center in Irvine, will make it extremely competitive in the overbuilt Orange County market.
Bowers is also in the initial planning stages of developing a 300,000-square-foot facility for the Microelectronics Systems Division of Hughes Aircraft Co. in the new town of Rancho Santa Margarita in southern Orange County.
O The third phase at Von Karman, near John Wayne Airport, has five buildings and 330,000 square feet of space in a market that Bowers admits is glutted with a four- to five-year supply of space. The Von Karman Corporate Center is being developed as a joint venture with Copley Real Estate Advisors, a subsidiary of New England Life.
"We feel that our project has an outstanding location, and tenants such as Xerox, PacTel and GTE Sprint seem to agree with us," Bowers added. He said that in today's overbuilt market and with the inflated prices of land "if we didn't own the land, I doubt that we would buy the site and develop it."
Bowers would like to see more retail and restaurant uses in office parks like the Von Karman project, and he says that the city of Irvine is glad to accommodate developers who feel as he does: The day of the single-purpose project is past and mixed-use projects in the suburbs make as much sense as they do in the cities.
Ratkovich said that his new firm is a highly professional and enthusiastic group, prepared to deal with major financial institutions and with urban planning and design issues.
The firm's executives include Clifford Ratkovich, executive vice president; Jack Germain, vice president/manager of construction and Charlotte Mitchell, chief financial officer. All were formerly with Ratkovich, Bowers & Perez.
Other executives from other firms include Paul Stern, senior vice president, formerly with Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate Services; Herb S. Chase, vice president/project manager, also from Coldwell Banker; Jim Ratkovich, assistant project manager, formerly with the national advertising department of the Los Angeles Times, and Kathleen Maguire, assistant project manager, formerly with Grey Advertising, Los Angeles.