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Developer Rick Caruso pushing limits of luxury apartments in L.A.

Rick Caruso, who developed such plush shopping centers as the Grove, spent $65 million building an 87-unit complex where the cheapest apartment is $4,500 a month.

November 12, 2012|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
  • Developer Rick Caruso hopes well-off renters will find his 8500 Burton Way tower both swanky and laid back, a California kind of place where tenants can work out with an on-staff private trainer, be served breakfast by the saltwater swimming pool on the roof and then catch a ride to the airport in a chauffeured black BMW “house car” parked downstairs.
Developer Rick Caruso hopes well-off renters will find his 8500 Burton… (Kirk McKoy, Los Angeles…)

With apartments holding strong as the hottest class in commercial real estate, developer Rick Caruso is testing the limits of the luxury category in Los Angeles with his residential complex that just opened on Burton Way.

The developer, best known for his plush outdoor shopping centers such as the Grove, spent $65 million building an 87-unit complex where the cheapest apartment is $4,500 a month and many cost more than $10,000.

"Those are New York rents," Caruso acknowledged. At about $8 a square foot, they are quadruple the Los Angeles average. One furnished penthouse will go on the market for $40,000 a month.

Caruso hopes well-off renters will find his 8500 Burton Way tower both swanky and laid back, a California kind of place where tenants can work out with an on-staff private trainer, be served breakfast by the saltwater swimming pool on the roof and then catch a ride to the airport in a chauffeured black BMW "house car" parked downstairs.

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"It's going to be like a six-star hotel," Caruso said, with his customary brio.

The developer, who recently bowed out of the Los Angeles mayoral race, is not known for scrimping or half measures — an 18-foot gold-plated nude sculpture in a fountain is the centerpiece of his Americana at Brand shopping center in Glendale.

The 8500 Burton Way complex is clad in white marble that Caruso personally selected in Italy and has an ornate garden visible only to tenants. By making the eight-story building out of concrete, Caruso was able to install floor-to-ceiling windows thick enough to shut out the traffic noise from La Cienega Boulevard below.

The layout of the complex was guided by a feng shui master, but Caruso insists on making such detailed decisions as what make of scented candles burn nonstop in the lobby (Unionmade's KML) and what kind of hardwood was used (Ipe). The fireplace in the center of the tenants' club room "didn't come out right," he said, and is being replaced.

Residents can take a private elevator to the Trader Joe's on the ground floor or email a shopping list to the concierge, who will see that the items are purchased and put away in tenants' refrigerators and cupboards. Room service will be provided from the Larder at Burton Way, an in-house restaurant set to open in mid-February.

One-third of the units are rented, Caruso said.

Move clears way for apartment, retail complex near Staples Center

A decision by the State Bar of California to move its longtime headquarters in downtown Los Angeles has cleared the way for a $250-million apartment and retail complex on what is now the State Bar's parking lot near Staples Center.

Beverly Hills developer Sonny Astani and parking lot giant L&R Group of Cos. bought the 3-acre property from the lawyers' group for $29 million. It is surrounded by South Olive Street, South Grand Avenue, West Pico Boulevard and West 12th Street.

"This is probably the last large parking lot downtown that is unentitled and undeveloped," Astani said.

His firm Astani Enterprises Inc. plans to build 640 apartments in two seven-story buildings that would have shops and restaurants on the ground floors. He hopes to start work within a year.

The land sale helped fund the State Bar's recent $50-million purchase of a building at 845 S. Figueroa St., where it will move after nearly 20 years in an AT&T Center building on Hill Street. The seller was L&R, which is renovating the 1960s-era building to make it into modern offices.

Astani has 2,500 apartments in $1 billion worth of mixed-use buildings in the pipeline for development in Hollywood, Koreatown, downtown and the Westside, he said.

Hudson Pacific buys share of Burbank office complex

Hudson Pacific Properties Inc. bought a 60% share of the $342-million Pinnacle office complex in Burbank from M. David Paul & Associates/Worthe Real Estate Group, bringing together two of Southern California's biggest entertainment industry landlords as co-owners.

The Pinnacle is made up of two office buildings on 4.3 acres near Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank Studios and Walt Disney Studios. Tenants include Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., KIIS-FM and Elektra Entertainment.

Among properties owned by Hudson Pacific are Sunset Bronson Studios, Sunset Gower Studios and the Technicolor Building.

"The Pinnacle will be extremely complementary to our portfolio and will provide Hudson with an immediate foothold in one of the top media and entertainment submarkets in Los Angeles," Chief Executive Victor J. Coleman said.

roger.vincent@latimes.com

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