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Q&A

Grand Ave. plan's phases and financing

February 14, 2007|Cara Mia DiMassa | Times Staff Writer

A new image from Frank Gehry of the Grand Avenue project was released. How is it different from the original one?

Gehry and partners have made small changes in the look, shape and height of the two towers and are refining some details of those towers' podiums as retail tenants sign on to the project. Both towers are still clad in glass, but the surface looks different from some of the original designs, which showed a pleated surface. Gehry is scheduled to release his final schematic designs in a number of weeks.

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Now that the project itself has been approved, what happens next?

Related Cos. is scheduled to break ground on the project's first phase in October, and complete it by 2011. Planning and design for the civic park that is part of the project's first phase continue. The joint powers authority must still decide who will operate the public park, and whether additional private money will be raised for the park's construction, beyond the $50 million that has already been set aside.

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What will be included in the Grand Avenue project?

The first phase, on the block of land directly east of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, will include a five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel, an Equinox sports club, a bookstore, a grocery store and other retail as well as a number of restaurants. A thousand residential units are also included; 200 of them have been designated as "affordable" housing. The second phase is to be built on the block south of Disney Hall, with preliminary plans calling for two 30- to 35-story residential towers, one five- to six-story residential building, and more retail stores and parking. The third phase would go east of Disney Hall. Preliminary plans call for a 35- to 40-story residential building including some retail shops and possibly a 15- to 20-story building that would be office space or condos. The county is still considering whether to raze its current administrative headquarters and move to an office building in the third phase.

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What's the timeline for the later phases?

Construction on Phase 2 is scheduled to begin in 2013 and be completed by August 2015. Phase 3 would begin in March 2014 and be done by January 2018.

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How is the project being financed?

Most of the financing for the project is being provided by the developer, Related Cos., and its financial partners, which include the equity firm MacFarlane Partners and the California Public Employees Retirement System. In addition to the land on which Grand Avenue will be built, the public agencies also are providing some funding for affordable housing and streetscape improvements. As part of its approval Tuesday, the city signed off on up to $66 million in tax breaks for the deal.

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Is it unusual for a project of this size to receive tax breaks?

Another huge downtown project -- the L.A. Live sports and entertainment complex near Staples Center -- was granted up to $290 million in subsidies and tax breaks from the city for a convention center hotel. But Grand Avenue is different from most mega-developments because it is being built on public land. The developer has a 99-year lease.

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