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Grand Avenue luxury skyscraper project remains on hold, developer seeking another extension

By Rachel Garcia
Published: Tuesday, June 26, 2012, at 01:58PM
Rachel Garcia

The Broad Museum is one part of the Grand Avenue project that is making headway. On the corner of Grand and Gen. Thad Kosciuszko Way, the art museum will sit on top of its parking structure.

A plan to revamp the Downtown L.A. cityscape with two luxury skyscrapers is still on hold according to the project developer. The mixed-use property was to feature a specialty retail complex, five-star dining establishments, condos and a high-end hotel.

The site for the two glass towers is directly across the street from the Disney Concert Hall, on the corner of Grand Avenue and Second Street.

Introduced six years ago, the $3 billion Grand Avenue project also includes the 12-acre Grand Avenue Civic Park, which is expected to open this summer and the Broad Museum, whose structure can be seen taking shape, already a couple stories in the air.

However, development of the Frank Gehry-designed luxury towers, which were initially part of phase one of the Grand Avenue project, was halted after a loss of investment following the economic recession.

“Six or seven years ago people felt the sky was the limit for real estate. No one believes that anymore,” said Bill Witte, president of Related California, the project developer.

Witte said Related would likely seek another extension on the deadline to begin construction of the towers, which was most recently postponed to February 2013.

“We are planning something we believe will work in today’s market,” Witte said. He would not go into any details on what a scaled down project might look like.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, who sits on the Grand Avenue Authority, an intergovernmental advisory committee for the project, had an optimistic outlook on the viability of the luxury towers as a destination location.

The demographic analysis indicates a strong market for international visitors as well as people from the L.A. area, Perry said. She expects to see new plans for the towers in the fall.

Another phase of the Grand Avenue project that is making headway is a high-rise apartment building situated adjacent to the Broad Art Museum.

Twenty percent of the building will be affordable housing, priced between $450-$870 per month, Perry said.

“This building will be very active and have people from all walks of life living there,” Perry said.

Construction on the high-rise apartment is expected to begin in the fall.

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