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31 Years Ago: Downtown's First Residential Reuse Announced

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, January 07, 2010, at 05:52PM
740 S. Olive Eric Richardson [Flickr]

While the 1999 passage of the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance is credited with spurring Downtown's now decade-long rebirth, the city's first real conversion of an outdated office building to residential uses occurred two decades earlier.

In January of 1978, Robert Maguire announced plans to convert the 1922 Pacific Telephone building at 740 S. Olive into 310 units of affordable senior housing. The building opened, 100% leased, in May of 1979.

The ten-story Olive street structure had its formal opening on July 16, 1922. Mayor George Cryer and the entire City Council attended the festivities.

The company occupied the structure for more than 50 years, but in 1974 announced its intention to move its regional headquarters across the 110 freeway to the former Signal Oil building at 1010 Wilshire.

Early environmental and plan approval work on the residential conversion started soon afterward. Maguire was cited as viewing the project as a demonstration of the feasibility of converting more old office buildings into senior housing Downtown.

The 299-unit Van Nuys building at 7th and Spring was converted in a similar project two years later.

Maguire owned 740 S. Olive until September of 2008, when the project was bought by Related Companies for somewhere north of $53 million.

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