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L.A. fashion district project to include college, hotel

The City Market project, valued at $500 million to $1 billion, would cover 10 acres in downtown L.A. and take as long as two decades to complete.

January 28, 2013|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
  • The six-story Windsor Apartments at 3198 W. 7th St. in L.A.'s Koreatown and an adjacent parking lot zoned for future development were sold for $10.75 million. The buyer plans to renovate the brick Tudor Revival-style complex.
The six-story Windsor Apartments at 3198 W. 7th St. in L.A.'s Koreatown… (Gary Friedman, Los Angeles…)

Ambitious plans have been unveiled for a 3.3-million-square-foot development that would bring a college, hotel, offices and apartments to the fashion district of downtown Los Angeles.

The owners of about three blocks' worth of faded commercial properties hope to build a project valued at $500 million to $1 billion called the City Market of Los Angeles. It would rise in an area that once housed wholesale produce businesses and is now home mostly to garment industry shops and warehouses.

City Market is in the early stages of seeking approval for the project from city officials, a process that could take more than a year. The boundaries of the proposed 10-acre development are roughly San Julian and San Pedro streets between 9th and 12th streets.

As planned by the six property owners led by Peter Fleming, City Market would hold a campus for one or more private colleges, 945 units of new housing, 210 hotel rooms and more than 500,000 square feet of creative offices, stores, restaurants and entertainment uses.

"With new academic facilities, creative office space, residences, hotel rooms, restaurants, nightspots, and event and exhibit spaces, the project seeks to become a globally recognized destination," said Fleming, chief executive of City Market.

Some existing buildings would be reused and others would be razed, said architect Douglas Hanson, design partner at Smart Architecture. The usable existing buildings probably would be developed first but the sequence of development would follow market demand.

"Ideally, we would all love to have the school there as the first phase," Hanson said. It would probably be a private post-graduate institution focused on fashion design.

It could take as long as two decades to complete the project, he said.

Koreatown apartment building sold

A 1920s-era apartment building in Koreatown has been acquired by a Los Angeles investor who plans to renovate the brick Tudor Revival-style complex near Wilshire Boulevard.

The six-story Windsor Apartments at 3198 W. 7th St. and an adjacent parking lot zoned for future development were sold for $10.75 million to a limited liability corporation, according to investment banking firm George Smith Partners.

The Windsor was built in 1926 at 7th and Catalina streets as an upscale apartment hotel in what was then suburban Los Angeles.

"It's a distinctive example of the great apartment buildings that characterized the neighborhood at the time — luxury living in a burgeoning area between Westlake (now MacArthur) Park and the Ambassador Hotel," said Linda Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy.

A Times story about renovation work at the Windsor in 1973 said the apartments were in easy walking distance of the hotel and the I. Magnin, Bullock's Wilshire and Saks Fifth Avenue department stores — all of which closed years ago.

The neighborhood fell out of favor in the latter decades of the 20th century but has experienced a jump in prosperity in recent years as new businesses and residents, many of them of Korean descent, have moved to the area.

The former Windsor restaurant in the apartment building is now a Korean restaurant called the Prince that has retained the Windsor's formal red-leather and low-light decor. It has been used for filming the television show "Mad Men" and other period pieces.

"The historic distinction of the Windsor building adds great value to the asset, while the development space that was included with the sale provides potential for future expansion," said Shahin Yazdi, a vice president at George Smith Partners.

The property's seller was La Senda Properties. The head of the corporation that bought it is Alireza Ghafouri, according to real estate data provider CoStar Group.

New offices for Beats by Dr. Dre

Musical electronics retailer Beats by Dr. Dre will move its headquarters from a plush office park in Santa Monica to gritty-looking former warehouses in Culver City.

Beats will occupy the entire 40,000-square-foot building at 8476 Steller Drive, plus 26,400 square feet in two adjacent properties at 8401 and 8454 Steller, real estate broker Joshua Gorin of Stanley Inc. said.

The electronics company that sells such music-related products as headphones, earphones and speakers is now in the Water Garden, a luxury office complex dating from the early 1990s. The Culver City warehouses that will become its offices were built in the late 1940s.

"This transaction provides an opportunity for Beats to move from a more traditional corporate venue to an exceptionally creative campus setting, better reflecting its brand and offering a vibrant, open work environment for its employees," Gorin said.

Terms of the lease were not disclosed, but real estate experts familiar with Culver City's burgeoning creative office market valued the deal at about $20 million.

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