Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Downtown LA's Dynamic Decade

We are lucky enough to be part of it!! Reprint from the Downtown News, written by Jon Regardie

Detailing the most Important Projects of the last decade.

When Tom Gilmore announced plans to turn a trio of buildings not far from Skid Row into market-rate apartments, many were skeptical. “To those who say it is not a great neighborhood,” said Gilmore at the time, “we just bought the neighborhood.” The 70-unit San Fernando Building came online in fall 2000, followed the next year by the 104-apartment Hellman Building and the 56-residence Continental Building. The corner of Fourth and Main streets has since become the epicenter of street life in the district, as businesses including Pete’s CafĂ©, Metropolis Books, Banquette, the OBD Market and Old Bank DVD have followed.Impact: At $33 million and 230 units, the Old Bank District was smaller in scale and budget than many later projects in Downtown. Yet none was more influential or precedent setting. Gilmore was the first developer to test the city’s new Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, which made it easier and less expensive to turn dead office structures into housing. He somehow secured the money, and as construction crews worked, other developers waited to see if the buildings could be transformed and if people would move in; many feared it would be an expensive flop. Instead, Gilmore found a sizeable market of people ready to embrace urban living, and in the wake of his success, developers flocked to the area, buying up nearly every old building available (and crazily ratcheting up the price of once un-sellable structures) and turning them into housing. The Old Bank District may have lacked the gloss of Disney Hall and the glitz of L.A. Live, but it opened doors no other project in Downtown did — without the Old Bank District, Downtown would not have seen the residential revolution of the past decade.