Los Angeles’ Historic Buildings Are Ready For Their Close-Ups

Eastern ColumbiaWith the constant influx of those chasing their dreams, Los Angeles residential real estate has been a solid investment since the turn of the last century. Office and commercial space has been a dicier investment because businesses (with their overhead) can’t take a second shift at the restaurant to make this month’s rent. In Los Angeles the vagaries of this boom and bust cycle have been felt the hardest in downtown, which, outside of the financial district, saw an exodus of high rents beginning in the late 1960s.
Since at least 1980 people talked about how downtown could be revitalized by converting largely underutilized office buildings into apartments and condos. With fits and starts, the engine for change had a difficult time taking hold, as downtown lacked supermarkets, restaurants (that would stay open at night) and the simple amenities that turn an area into a neighborhood.
Fast forward to the late 90s, as Staple Center (and later, LA Live) began to give people a reason to start congregating downtown, smart investors began to buy historic and iconic downtown buildings, and turned them into mixed use properties (retail and restaurants on the ground floor, apartments and condos above). By keeping the historic facades (often forced to do so), these repurposed buildings emanated “cool,” drawing celebrities in search of urban pied-a-terres, and the restaurants, clubs and bars in search of celebrities.
To show the trend is continuing, MWest Holdings, LLC, recently doubled down and added the San Fernando Building to their already iconic collection of LA buildings. Owners of  The Hollywood Tower and Wilshire Royale Apartments, MWest calls this portfolio “The Heritage Collection,” and they seem intent on augmenting the neighborhood’s hip vibe by renting space to some of the hottest restaurants and clubs downtown.
As the footprint of livable downtown continues to expand, more historic and architecturally interesting properties are sure to have second acts of their own. With the growing population and a growing (and somewhat workable) mass transit system, old Los Angeles is ready to become new again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *