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Who is Thomas Properties?

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, April 03, 2009, at 12:17PM

When news leaked yesterday afternoon that a "major Downtown developer" was slated to announce a new $1 billion project -- which we soon found to be slated for the Wilshire Grand site -- the list of potential candidates wasn't very long. There are just a handful of names with experience building major projects Downtown.

Jim Thomas is one of those names, but he's someone that new Downtown residents more familiar with the Tom Gilmores and Geoff Palmers of the world may not have heard of.

It's not much of a stretch to say that Robert Maguire and Jim Thomas built the new Downtown.

The two joined up in 1983, creating Maguire Thomas Partners. Maguire was already a name in Downtown development. His company, Maguire Partners, was a partner in the $300-million Crocker Center development on Bunker Hill (now the Wells Fargo Center).

1984 was a big year for Maguire Thomas. In the spring, the firm bought and sold the One Bunker Hill building at 5th and Grand, part of a multi-year effort to acquire property later used in the development of Library Tower.

Midyear, Thomas was one of six Downtown executives to form a non-profit that assumed ownership of the Weingart Center, at 6th and San Pedro. The facility had opened in late 1970s to provide alcoholism recovery.

Later that year Maguire Thomas unveiled its Library Square project, a $1 billion plan that led to the construction of Library Tower, the Gas Company Tower, 555 S. Hope, the parking garage underneath the Central Library property and the Maguire Gardens above. The air rights purchased for the deal led to the development of the library's annex, with Maguire Thomas giving the city a $28.2 million check in June of 1987.

Library Tower opened in late 1989. The Bunker Hill Steps, a public amenity of the plan, opened in 1990.

Maguire Thomas announced that the two principals were going their separate ways in August of 1996. Maguire retained control of most of the company's portfolio, while Thomas left to start his own firm, now known as Thomas Properties Group.

After a time in the late 1990s that saw Thomas distracted by a stint as co-owner of the Sacramento Kings basketball team, his firm teamed up with the California State Teachers Retirement System in 1999 to more aggressively pursue real estate development.

The company bought Arco Plaza, now City National Plaza, in 2003 for $270 million. In October of 2004 it went public, just months after Maguire Properties completed its own Initial Public Offering. Robert Maguire was replaced as CEO of the company he founded in May of 2008.

Today the company has properties across the country, including City National Plaza and 800 S. Hope locally. Its most recent SEC filing listed $665 million in assets.

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