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Developer begins construction of Wilshire at La Brea complex

The six-story, $105-million apartment and retail development at Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue will house 480 residential units.

August 06, 2012|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
  • The apartment and retail development called Wilshire at La Brea will have shops and restaurants along both streets, according to the the Los Angeles contractor building the complex. It will include two swimming pools, a fitness center and 997 parking spaces in a subterranean garage. Above, a rendering of the project showing the view from La Brea heading south toward the intersection with Wilshire Blvd.
The apartment and retail development called Wilshire at La Brea will have… (TCA Architects )

Work is underway on a $105-million apartment and retail development at the crossroads of two major Los Angeles thoroughfares, Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue.

The six-story complex called Wilshire at La Brea is being erected by San Francisco apartment developerBRE Properties Inc.It will house 480 residential units and fill the block at the southeast corner of the intersection.

"Through careful planning, this project comes to market at the right time and provides much needed housing in an area already rich with valuable amenities and easy access to mass transit," BRE Vice President John Selindh said.

The development is one of the first to take advantage of a new city planning policy that allows for replacement of obsolete structures to encourage higher density in urban infill areas, according to architect Thomas Cox, a principal at TCA Architects in Los Angeles, who designed the project.

Over the objections of some preservationists, BRE razed a building completed in 1965 to house a Columbia Savings & Loan branch used most recently as a church. Its stained-glass ceiling was listed for auction in 2010.

Wilshire at La Brea will have shops and restaurants along both streets, said Steve Pellegren of Bernards, the Los Angeles contractor building the complex. It will include two swimming pools, a fitness center and 997 parking spaces in a subterranean garage.

"This is a very high-density project, directly in the middle of one of the city's hottest redevelopment areas," Pellegren said.

Sunset Media Center bought for $79 million

Los Angeles office landlordKilroy Realty Corp.has made its first move into Hollywood with the $79-million purchase of Sunset Media Center, a high-rise near Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street.

Kilroy plans to spend "many more millions of dollars" to renovate the 22-story tower built in 1972, said David Simon, Kilroy's executive vice president for the Los Angeles region.

The goal is to reposition the building at 6255 W. Sunset Blvd. as more upscale and attract tenants capable of paying higher rents. In recent years the blocks around Sunset and Vine have seen substantial improvements with the addition of new apartments, stores, restaurants, nightclubs and hotels.

"It's an amenity-rich market," Simon said.

The company plans further acquisitions of Hollywood properties that can be upgraded to appeal to prosperous firms in creative businesses.

Kilroy, founded more than six decades ago, is often associated with its office buildings near Los Angeles International Airport and in Orange County near John Wayne Airport. Recent acquisitions, though, include offices in Seattle, San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

"We focus on technology, media and entertainment," Simon said.

The acquisition of Sunset Media Center took more than a year to complete, he said. The sellers were multiple investors in a group managed by Passco Cos.

Updating Sunset Media Center to compete for Hollywood's resurgent entertainment and tech industries is a logical strategy for Kilroy, said real estate broker Carl Muhlstein of Cushman & Wakefield, who represented the landlord in the sale.

"Hollywood has one of the lowest vacancy factors in the city at 6% to 8%, and nobody is building new offices from the ground up," he said.

Inland Empire industrial market improves

With the volume of trade rising at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Inland Empire industrial real estate market is also picking up steam, according to a report.

San Bernardino and Riverside counties are home to vast warehouse and distribution centers where businesses receive bulk shipments of goods that arrive from overseas through the ports. Products such as shoes and furniture are then rebundled and shipped to retailers around the country.

Shipping fell off during the recent economic downturn, and vacancy in the region's industrial buildings climbed. That trend has reversed, according to a report from real estate brokerage CBRE Group Inc. The second quarter saw a net gain of 4.4 million square feet occupied, the biggest gain since the second quarter of 2007.

Developers launched more than 2.8 million square feet of speculative construction, the highest level since the second quarter of 2008.

"Developers are becoming less risk averse as the supply of state-of-the-art big-box buildings continues to lessen within the Inland Empire industrial market," CBRE Group said.

roger.vincent@latimes.com

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