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New owners turning Brockman Building into apartments

April 16, 2012|By Roger Vincent
  • The Brockman Lofts in downtown Los Angeles.
The Brockman Lofts in downtown Los Angeles. (Simpson Housing )

A historic downtown Los Angeles office and retail complex that was being converted to condominiums before the last recession has been purchased out of bankruptcy and will be turned into luxury apartments.

Denver developer Simpson Housing bought the Brockman Building at 530 W. 7th St. from Bank of America, which took it back from another developer that had almost completed the condo conversion before the residential market went south starting in 2007.

The Brockman Building earned a footnote in Hollywood lore nearly a century ago when silent film actor and director Harold Lloyd reportedly witnessed “human fly” Bill Struther climb the exterior of the 12-story tower as a stunt.

Lloyd was inspired to make his famous 1923 romantic comedy, “Safety Last,” which includes a harrowing building-climbing scene that climaxes with Lloyd apparently hanging from the hands of a clock high above Los Angeles’ Broadway.

The upper floors of the Brockman have been vacant for years. It barely escaped the wrecking ball during the office-building boom of the 1980s when a Japanese developer bought the property with the intention of razing it and other buildings to make way for a new office and hotel complex. Brooks Brothers, a tenant in the Brockman for 50 years, moved its downtown clothing store to a new location in 1989, leaving the building empty.

Bottega Louie restaurant opened in the former Brooks Brothers space in 2009 and has been a popular part of an emerging bar and restaurant scene on Seventh Street.

Simpson Housing is finishing work on 80 units and will begin leasing at the end of the month, company spokeswoman Adrienne Hill said. Rents at the Brockman Lofts, as it will be known, will start at  $2,200 a month and reach $10,000 for a penthouse.

The building was built in 1912 and a shorter annex was added in 1917. Hot and cold plunge pools have been added on the roof of the annex along with a fitness center, lounge and outdoor kitchen. The Brockman Lofts will have a concierge and valet parking.

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