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State a Prized Tenant in Historic Downtown Core

Real estate: Three agencies lease entire 13-story building. Caltrans is planning to build new regional headquarters.

March 14, 2000|JESUS SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

As downtown Los Angeles landlords struggle to fill buildings, the State of California has emerged as a major real estate player and prized tenant.

Three agencies are preparing to occupy an entire 13-story building in the city's historic core later this year. Meanwhile, Caltrans will look for space to accommodate an anticipated 300 new engineers and downtown employees. The transportation agency will also soon begin planning a new regional headquarters on Main Street, not far from its current Spring Street site.

"The state will soon have three major modern buildings in the heart of the historic core with about 6,000 employees," said Dan Rosenfeld, a former state real estate manager who now works with a Los Angeles-based development firm, Urban Partners.

The state's largest downtown property is the Ronald Reagan State Building, an 850,000-square-foot complex at Spring and Third Street that opened in 1991. Last year, the old Broadway department store building at Broadway and Fourth Street reopened as offices for 1,000 state workers after a $52-million renovation.

Late this summer, about 500 workers will occupy the Washington Building, a 13-story structure across Spring from the Reagan Building. The 91-year-old building is undergoing a $10-million renovation to accommodate workers from Department of Health Services, Office of Statewide Health Planning and the division of the State Architect. State officials agreed to lease the entire 110,000-square-foot building for 20 years, said Gilbert Dreyfuss, a member of the family partnership that owns it.

The state's efforts are certainly welcome in the long-suffering historic core, where public and private efforts have failed to generate much improvement after decades of work. However, the state has fallen short of its 1993 pledge to relocate more than 2,000 workers in 40 locations across Los Angeles County to the central city. Most of the state employees working in downtown have simply been shifted from other nearby buildings, Rosenfeld said.

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