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Chinatrust Bank to move U.S. headquarters to downtown L.A.

The bank's decision to move from Torrance is part of a recent trend to be in the financial district in downtown Los Angeles.

December 03, 2012|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
  • Chinatrust Bank will move its U.S. headquarters to the 25-story tower at 801 S. Figueroa St. in Los Angeles.
Chinatrust Bank will move its U.S. headquarters to the 25-story tower at… (Mani Bros. Real Estate Group )

Chinatrust Bank has agreed to move its U.S. headquarters to downtown Los Angeles from Torrance.

The bank will rent two floors in 801 Tower, a company representative said. The high-rise is in the financial district north of Staples Center.

"We wanted to be in a major financial area," said Brian Gregson, head of U.S. retail banking at Chinatrust. "This is the early stage of getting our ducks in a row to start some expansion."

The bank's name will be affixed on top of the 25-story tower at 801 S. Figueroa St., he said.

Chinatrust, which is based in Taiwan, has 12 branches in the United States, including seven in Southern California. The bank will move about 175 employees to the new headquarters by the middle of next year, Gregson said.

Terms of the lease with landlord Mani Bros. Real Estate Group were not disclosed, but data provider CoStar said the agreement is for 10 years. At current rents, the lease for nearly 40,000 square feet would be valued at nearly $20 million.

Chinatrust's decision to move to downtown L.A. is part of a recent trend for businesses to relocate their main offices to the financial center, reversing the exodus of previous decades, real estate broker Ted Simpson of Cushman & Wakefield said.

"This speaks to the emergence of downtown L.A. as a corporate headquarters destination not seen since the 1980s," said Simpson, who represented the bank in the transaction with his partner Michael Ma.

Other companies to recently move their main offices or regional headquarters downtown include law firm Haight Brown Bonesteel and architecture firm Gensler.

"Corporations are once again choosing downtown for its attractiveness to its employees, not just low cost," Simpson said.

Average rents are cheaper downtown than on the popular Westside, in part because downtown has higher vacancy. Large corporations including Arco and First Interstate Bank left downtown in past decades or substantially reduced their offices.

Apartments going up in N. Hollywood

Apartment complexes planned before the demise of redevelopment agencies in California continue to rise in North Hollywood.

The projects in the NoHo Arts District near the northern terminus of the Red Line subway include the recently completed NoHo Senior Villas for elderly low-income tenants.

A larger, $50-million market-rate complex is under construction nearby and has reached its top height of six stories.

Phoenix developer Alliance Residential Co. is building the 308-unit market-rate complex called the Ferrara at 5031 Fair Ave. It is intended to be resort-like with outdoor dining facilities and bars, pools, cabanas and an outdoor movie venue.

"Our goal is to create a luxurious urban getaway for the residents," said Jonas Bronk of Alliance.

The Ferrara is slated for completion late next year.

NoHo Senior Villas, at 5525 Klump Ave., has 49 units and was built by Clifford Beers Housing and PATH Ventures for $16 million. Most of the units are reserved for seniors who were homeless and are living with a mental illness. The five-story complex has on-site facilities for mental health and social service personnel.

Both projects were designed by Killefer Flammang Architects of Santa Monica.

Also recently completed in North Hollywood was the $32-million NoHo Senior Arts Colony. It is intended for residents age 62 and over with interests in such pursuits as singing, acting, photography and writing.

The two senior housing projects are in the former North Hollywood Redevelopment Project Area, which offered tax breaks to developers. State officials dissolved local redevelopment agencies this year to save money.

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