Construction of the Gov. George Deukmejian Courthouse reached a milestone last week when workers placed the last beam of the $490-million structure in downtown Long Beach.
The new building, set to open on Magnolia Avenue in fall 2013, will replace the nearby Long Beach Courthouse, completed in 1959 and considered overcrowded and obsolete.
The five-story Deukmejian building will house 31 courtrooms, as well as superior court administration quarters, Los Angeles County justice agencies, offices leased to the county Probation Department, a food court and a convenience store.
Long Beach Courthouse is plagued by worn-down mechanical systems, including escalators and elevators, and might sustain considerable damage in an earthquake, said Clifford W. Ham, principal architect for the state's Administrative Office of the Courts.
"It has deteriorated physically," Ham said.
Security there is also a challenge because in-custody defendants have to be escorted through public corridors. Jurors and visitors often must stand in long lines that extend outdoors as they wait to pass through scanner checkpoints.
The new building will have a large atrium housing multiple checkpoints. Overhead, pedestrian bridges will enable county justice agency staff to move quickly to and from the courtrooms. Defendants in custody will move through separate corridors from an underground holding area.
The Deukmejian courthouse will be the first in the United States to be built under a new public-private partnership system meant to take advantage of the private sector's access to financing, technological expertise and management efficiency.
A limited liability corporation called Long Beach Judicial Partners is erecting the 545,000-square-foot complex and will operate and maintain it for 35 years, said Steve Reinstein, chief executive of Long Beach Judicial Partners.
During that time, the state will make $50-million annual payments that include mortgage, maintenance and operational costs.
"They own the building from Day One," Reinstein said, but Long Beach Judicial Partners will hold the mortgage. In 2048, the state will take full control.
The Long Beach Courthouse design and construction team was organized by Meridiam Infrastructure North America, a long-term equity fund in New York.
Apartment complex being built on La Cienega Boulevard
Work is underway on a $50-million apartment and retail complex on La Cienega Boulevard in the Beverly Grove neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Apartment developer NMS Properties is building the five-story project called NMS@La Cienega at the intersection of La Cienega and Westmount Drive, near Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
The complex is intended to appeal to renters in the medical, design, entertainment and retail industries, which are active nearby, NMS President Jim Andersen said.
The 125-unit building with underground parking and street-level shops is set to open in July 2013. It will have rooftop gardens and a floating plaster facade that peels away to reveal the corners.
"We have sought to make the project a stylish residential enclave in a busy urban area," said architect Wade Killefer of Killefer Flammang Architects.
Tightened lending standards are sinking small deals
Although commercial real estate markets are showing signs of recovery, lending standards have tightened in the last year for small businesses and have scuttled many contracted transactions for smaller properties, a survey said.
"This is very much a tale of two markets," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Assn. of Realtors. "There have been notable improvements in capital for large commercial transactions valued at $2.5 million or higher, but there remain significant challenges for small business."
Last year, loans from big banks helped sales volume increase substantially for large properties, while smaller regional and local banks tightened standards and killed deals, the group said.
Transactions that fell through were for such properties as apartment buildings, warehouses, small offices and retail strip centers.