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Hollywood architectural firm 5+ Design making mark overseas

June 14, 2013|By Cale Ottens
  • The Piazza Maras Shopping Center, designed by Hollywood-based 5  Design, opened in Turkey this year.
The Piazza Maras Shopping Center, designed by Hollywood-based 5 Design,… (5 Design )

While real estate development is picking up in the U.S., a Hollywood architectural firm has focused overseas.

Hollywood-based 5+ Design announced recently that a 600,000-square-foot mixed-use shopping center it designed has opened in the city of Kahramanmaras, Turkey.

The city, sometimes called Maras for short, is "a smaller city in Turkey’s southeast region that is agriculturally and textile driven, with a strong focus on natural materials and craft," according to Tim Thurik, who was the lead architect for the project. 

Founded in 2005, 5+ Design has survived some tough economic conditions in the U.S., said managing partner Mike Ellis. But the design firm was able to find a lot of work in China when the going was rough at home. The firm also worked in other markets, including Turkey.  

“Turkey has been strong through it all, their economy is very robust," Ellis said. "It has turned out to be one of our best markets.”

The project, dubbed Piazza Maras Shopping Center, has 153 stores, 24 restaurants, a family entertainment center, skating rink and theater. 

Ellis noted that construction competition is much lower overseas, which is another big reason the company decided to do so much work in other countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Russia and China. 

“Just in general, the United States has been our most challenging market," he said. "It hasn’t had the need to grow, unlike other places in the world. I think we just have more opportunities elsewhere, and more interesting opportunities elsewhere.”

The cost of construction is also much lower overseas, Thurik said. The shopping center project cost between $200 million and $300 million, while it would have cost between $400 million and $500 million if it was done in the U.S., he said. 

As the economy continues to pick up in Southern California, Ellis said he hopes to start designing more local projects. 

In fact, 5+ Design is in the planning process of renovating Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance. The huge mall currently has more than 200 stores and will be going through "substantial renovations" over the next several years, Ellis said. The construction will be done in phases, but he is unsure when it will begin. 

Ellis said his company hopes to begin to find even more work locally and around the U.S.

“We’d love to do more work in the U.S.," he said. "It’s great to be working in your own country in a nearby time zone, so we welcome the opportunities. There are a lot of local firms in the U.S. so the playground is a little different here.” 

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Twitter: @CaleOttens

cale.ottens@latimes.com

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