The site of the Wertz Bros. Antique Mart in Santa Monica at 1613 Santa Monica… (Marcus & Millichap )
Plans are moving forward for construction of two 46-story residential towers behind the landmark Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel in Century City after the unanimous approval of the project last week by the Los Angeles City Council.
Developer Next Century Associates expects to start work next year on the $2-billion project designed by architect Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. In addition to the towers it will include a 100,000-square-foot retail plaza with shops and restaurants and more than two acres of public open space with fountains and courtyards.
The front of the 19-story Century Plaza that now caters to arriving auto traffic will be made over to include cafe seating and walkways. The crescent-shaped hotel that has hosted many high-profile visitors and events since the 1960s will be renovated, and the number of rooms for rent will be reduced to 394 from 726. The reconfigured building also will include 63 luxury condominiums for owners who may live there full time.
The swimming pool will be removed to make way for the new towers and replaced by two pools on the hotel roof. Plans also include a proposed Metro station for an eventual Westside subway.
That plan reflects a shift in urban planning conventions since Century City was built on the former back lot of what was then 20th Century Fox Studios on the western edge of Beverly Hills.
"Century City was designed in the '60s as a city of the future based around auto-centric Los Angeles where the boundaries of L.A. seemed limitless," said Michael Rosenfeld, managing partner of Next Century. "People would motor in from the suburbs, pull into podium garages and then go up elevators to modern skyscrapers."
As a result, few people were seen walking the streets of Century City. New Century hopes to stimulate foot traffic with its plazas and the addition of shops on Constellation Boulevard across the street from the Westfield Century Plaza mall.
The project was the result of years of collaboration among the developer, the city, architectural preservation groups, neighboring homeowners and labor organizations. Originally, Rosenfeld proposed demolishing the hotel, but a backlash from preservationists and neighbors prompted him to rethink the scheme.
"I'm kind of delighted," said Jan Reichmann, president of Comstock Hills Homeowners Assn. She said she appreciated the changes Rosenfeld made in the proposed towers to make them appear slimmer and more striking.
Next Century Associates, which owns the hotel, is a partnership between Rosenfeld's Woodridge Capital Partners and funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management.
Apartment developer buys Santa Monica site
One of L.A.'s most active apartment developers has purchased the site of the Wertz Bros. Antique Mart in Santa Monica as dramatic changes are planned for properties near a future stop on the light-rail Expo Line.
Wertz Realty Investments sold the antique store building and parking lot at 1613 Lincoln Blvd. to Century West Partners for more than $11 million, public documents indicate.
Century West plans to incorporate the site into its proposed Lincoln Boulevard Collection, which is to be composed of four apartment buildings on Lincoln Boulevard with a combined total of 421 units. The complex is to have shops and restaurants on the ground floor.
City officials have approved mixed-use development around planned stops on the Expo Line that is to connect Santa Monica with downtown Los Angeles in 2016.
"They hope this will make downtown Santa Monica more pedestrian friendly," said real estate broker Patrick Wade, who helped broker the deal and two others last year near Lincoln and Colorado Avenue with partner Alex Kozakov.
Those three sales — with a combined value of $36 million for a total of 102,000 square feet — demonstrate a jump in appeal for the Santa Monica neighborhood. The prices were as much as seven times higher than previously assessed values.
"The elevated apartment renter demand in Santa Monica, combined with the tech business growth and high barriers to entry for retailers, make the city one of the most desirable real estate markets in the nation for developers," Wade said.
Century West, which is headed by developers Steve Fifield and Michael Sorochinsky, has other mixed-used residential projects planned in Santa Monica as well as in downtown Los Angeles and the Koreatown district.
Times staff writer Martha Groves contributed to this report.