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New Condo Development Gets Underway in Downtown L.A.

The first phase of the project at 11th Street and Grand Avenue will have 179 loft-style units.

September 30, 2004|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

The first condominium project in downtown Los Angeles to be built from the ground up in more than 20 years is under construction as a burst of residential development begins to transform once-desolate blocks around Staples Center.

The $250-million project at the southwest corner of 11th Street and Grand Avenue eventually will include as many as 750 for-sale properties in townhouses and high-rise towers, developers said. The units are being built by Portland developers Williams & Dame Development and Gerding/Edlen Development Co., which have erected more than 2,000 lofts, condominiums and townhouses in Oregon's largest city.

The first phase will consist of 179 loft-style units in a 13-story building with shops on the ground floor, a parking garage and seven two-story townhouses accessible from the street.

"We're trying to create neighborhoods," said Homer Williams, chairman of Williams & Dame. "Urban development is about making small towns."

Shops and restaurants will be included in the ground floor of the high-rise and Portland designers Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects will look for ways to break up the block to create irregular open spaces and corners, Williams said. Prices for the condos will start in the high $200,000s or low $300,000s.

The condo tower, called Elleven because of its location at 1111 S. Grand Ave., is scheduled to be completed by early 2006.

The second phase is set to begin construction in March with 236 lofts in a 19-story tower, 10 townhouses and another parking structure. The third phase, with as many as 350 lofts in a 27-story building, eight townhouses and more parking, would begin in September 2005.

Although a handful of older downtown office and industrial buildings have been turned into condominiums or are in the process of being converted, Elleven is the first condo project to be built from scratch since the Skyline tower was completed at 9th and Flower streets in 1983, said Los Angeles real estate consultant Stan Michota.

Skyline and other downtown condos struggled for decades to attract buyers, but attitudes are changing fast, Williams said.

"There is the beginning of a sense-of-place downtown and the market will respond quite quickly to that," he said. "Los Angeles is going to transform itself much faster than people realize."

The Portland builders intend to keep targeting the area near Staples and the Los Angeles Convention Center, and have a parcel in escrow that would enable them to build another project as large as the one getting underway, said Michota, who represents the developers.

The developers have applied to the U.S. Green Building Council for certification at the "silver" level for their use of environmentally sound construction principles.

More than 3,500 housing units have been added to downtown Los Angeles since 1999, according to the Downtown Center Business Improvement District. Another 3,000 are under construction.

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