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Century-old Spring Street tower to become creative offices

January 06, 2013|By Roger Vincent
  • The Corporation Building at 724 S. Spring St. in Los Angeles will be converted to creative offices by new owner Izek Shomof.
The Corporation Building at 724 S. Spring St. in Los Angeles will be converted… (Francine Orr/Los Angeles…)

A Spring Street office building completed in 1915 has been purchased by developers who plan to improve it as gentrification sweeps gradually through downtown Los Angeles’ formerly depressed historic financial district.

The Corporation Building at 724 S. Spring St. was acquired by Izek Shomof, one of the most active developers of aging properties in the city’s historic core. Shomof said he plans to renovate the 13-story tower and rent office space to creative firms.

Terms of the sale by Spring & Main Property were not disclosed, but real estate experts familiar with the neighborhood valued the deal at about $10 million.

Spring Street was known as the “Wall Street of the West” in the early 20th century but fell from favor in the decades after World War II as financial firms and other white-collar companies moved to newer buildings close to the Harbor (110) Freeway or left downtown.

The Corporation Building, like others in the area, came to house garment manufacturing in recent years, though it still bears the painted sign of a longtime previous occupant that says: “Dr. Campbell Credit Dentist.”

Renovations will include retooling the ground floor retail space, Shomof said. “We’re talking to restaurants and sidewalk cafes.”

Some “creative” tenants, including Smart Architecture, are already in the building, which has no heating or air conditioning. “It’s very bare bones but it gets great light from the large windows,” said Douglas Hanson, a partner at the architectural firm.

Many former offices downtown have been turned into apartments or condominiums, but Hanson said he is pleased that the Corporation Building is to be revived as offices.

“We need to stay away from converting everything to housing,” he said. “We need a mix of people living and working in the neighborhood.”

Prospective buyers for the Corporation Building included hoteliers, real estate broker Ed Rosenthal of New Downtown Brokerage said.

“There is a lot of activity and changes in ownership in the historical area by Spring and Main streets,” Rosenthal said. “The restaurant and boutique hotel scene is alive.”

Ace Hotel, a Portland, Ore., chain of boutique inns catering to the young and hip, is building a 180-room outpost in the historic United Artists building nearby at Broadway and 9th Street. It is set to open in the fall.

The Shomof family has been redeveloping downtown since 1999, Shomof said. Projects include the revival of Spring Street in the blocks near the former Pacific Stock Exchange. Last March, a partnership including the Shomofs bought three rundown early 20th century hotels around Fifth and Los Angeles streets that it plans to improve.

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