20th-century sprawl capital enjoys biggest downtown building boom since the 1920s

On the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles, California, workers are putting the finishing touches on the Wilshire Grand, the West Coast’s tallest building. Owned by Korean Air, it rises 1,100 feet and will have a hotel, offices and observation deck when finished.

Two blocks away, China’s Greenland Group is busy erecting the four-tower Metropolis community, a $1-billion development with 350 hotel rooms and more than 1,500 condos.

Within walking distance are two other massive projects that will add a combined five towers, 1,152 luxury residential units, 184 hotel rooms and 214,000 square feet of retail space.

Downtown Los Angeles is undergoing its largest construction boom in modern times — an explosion that’s adding thousands of residences, construction jobs and a multitude of shops and restaurants.

The city best know for dysfunctional sprawl–with its massive traffic jams, stifling air pollution, disconnected neighborhoods, and tragic loss of both greenspace and farmland–has been coming to its senses for over a decade now.

The poster child of bad urban planning is becoming a revitalization poster child instead. For some years, residential growth in the downtown has exceeded that of the suburbs (percentage-wise), and the momentum is still building, as witnessed by this historic building boom.

There’s a retail complex rising in the Arts District; twin 24-story apartment towers being built on Spring Street in the historic core; and a large mixed-use project next to Pershing Square.

But the epicenter, arguably, is the South Park neighborhood. And like the 1980s — when Japanese investment flooded downtown — foreign dollars are playing a major role.

From 2014 until this summer, Chinese developers were involved in at least seven of 18 land deals downtown valued in excess of $19 million, according to real estate firm Transwestern.

When the economy began to recover from the Great Recession of the Bush administration, the Los Angeles downtown, like other city centers across the nation, stood ready to benefit from an accelerating trend toward urban living among young professionals.

Photo of downtown LA via Adobe Stock.

See full article by Andrew Khouri in the Los Angeles Times.

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