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Dick Turpin

Foreigners See L. A. Center as 'Mark of Leader'

March 13, 1988|Dick Turpin

The continuing expansion of foreign investors into downtown Los Angeles, as illustrated below, clearly emphasizes their involvement and shows particularly how Little Tokyo is expanding its boundaries into a "big" Tokyo.

Japanese ownership of these showcase properties, outside of the long-established Little Tokyo area northeast of the central downtown district, indicates the great and growing impact and visibility Japan is having on the local scene.

Los Angeles obviously continues to be a great haven for foreign investors, with its perception as a very stable economy in a nation with unprecedented federal budget and national trade imbalances.

Our central district may not always be bargain city, but it is still a magnet for foreign investments, mainly from Great Britain, West Germany, Canada, The Netherlands, Israel and Mexico, all in the wake of Japan.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday March 20, 1988 Home Edition Real Estate Part 8 Page 2 Column 2 Real Estate Desk 3 inches; 92 words Type of Material: Correction
The legend under the panorama photo of downtown Los Angeles, published March 13, listing the foreign interests involved in ownership of major buildings, contained three errors. The building identified as No. 7 has since been sold by Canadian interests to JMB Realty; a Chinese flag instead of the Philippines flag was shown identifying ownership of No. 24, the International Bank of California, and No. 37, the Variety Arts Building, identified as Israeli-owned, referred to the controlling interest and arrangement builder/developer Raffi Cohen has with the Community Redevelopment Agency for the entire block of which the theater property is a part.

All of that sounds pretty much like a joint venture in business.

Saturo Jo, until recently vice president and director of acquisition for the Shuwa Corp.--which has already purchased Arco Plaza, Chase Plaza, 1900 Century Park East and other major properties here, in New York and Boston--describes downtown Los Angeles as just that.

Now a vice president with Cushman Realty Corp., Jo describes the downtown area as unique, "because it is a joint venture of both U .S. and foreign firms.

"Before the involvement of foreign firms, downtown Los Angeles was essentially a regional center serving Southern California. The principal West Coast financial center was in San Franciso.

"Japanese executives see downtown Los Angeles through the same eyes as they see downtown Tokyo. They see it (downtown Los Angeles) as a safe investment since it is in the center of activity.

"And, from a symbolic viewpoint, Japanese, like Europeans and Middle Easterners, believe that being in the center is the mark of a leader. In ancient cities, the ruler's palace was always in the center."

Using downtown as their base, Jo said Japanese manufacturing firms will locate their offices and plants near ports (Long Beach, San Pedro), Orange County and other adjacent areas.

In a March 7 Times story, another principal figure in the Japanese involvement in the downtown sector, Yukuo Takenaka, partner in the Peat Marwick Main accounting firm, joked:

"The Japanese don't own all of downtown--yet."

Coming from a man who services such high-powered corporate names as Hitachi, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi Electric, you can count on a sure foreboding of more investment from such clients.

The Chinese imprint has long been present immediately north of downtown, where Chinatown serves as the bustling center for that community. Long gone is Little Italy, once a thriving entity along North Broadway.

In adjacent downtown areas, to the north, west and south, the colors of Korea, Cuba and the Philippines are quite evident in shopping centers, office buildings and restaurants.

Then, of course, there is Broadway, once the city's principal retail and business hub. Today, its Asian and Latino shop owners have a hustling stretch of commerce, equal in cash transactions with any business district zone.

Appropriately, at a dinner meeting Tuesday, the Asian Business League of Southern California presents its second annual real estate forum, entitled "A Yen for Real Estate," at the Sheraton Grande. Four investment authorities will discuss--you probably guessed it--Japanese realty investments in the United States, zeroing in on Southern California.

Speakers are Edward M. Nakata, vice president and co-managing director of Pacific Rim Investors' Account Group of Coldwell Banker, presenting an overview of Japanese investments throughout the nation, and Okitami Komada, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Mitsui-Fudosan (U .S .A.) Inc., addressing his company's history of American investments.

Others are Yoshio Yamashita, vice chairman of the board of Shuwa Investments Corp., discussing Shuwa's acquisition strategies, and John C. Cushman III, a leading figure in downtown's transformation and president and chief executive officer of Cushman Realty Corp., an overview of the downtown market.

Jerve M. Jones, president and chief executive officer of Peck/Jones Construction, will serve as moderator.

One of the principal points of discussion is likely to be the Japanese philosophy of ownership, which, historically, encompasses longevity and permanence, not the quick turnover for profit.

If that old attitude persists here, future visitors to the downtown area may not only have to leave their vehicles outside the main thoroughfares, they may also have to leave their shoes in the downtown entry areas.

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