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LA Greenlights $1.6 Billion Downtown Project to Bet on Recovery

(Bloomberg) — Los Angeles has approved a $1.6 billion downtown hotel and apartment development, the biggest project to go ahead since the city’s post-Covid-19 wallop two years ago.

Developers at Angels Landing, Don Peebles and Victor MacFarlane, say groundbreaking is almost two years away as they complete the two-tower project ahead of the Olympics in 2028.

“This is the biggest new project in LA to emerge from the pandemic and will create jobs in one industry — hospitality,” Peebles said.

Angels Landing, which is still in need of financing, has been hammering its way through the city’s approval process for several years. It consists of an 854-foot (260-m) building that Peebles and MacFarlane say will be the third tallest in Los Angeles and the tallest building ever built in the US by black developers.

The project will consist of two hotels, apartments, condos and retail space. It will test investors’ appetite to bet on the city of Los Angeles at a time when crime and homelessness have complicated the pandemic’s recovery. According to data provider STR, while apartment demand has improved, hotel occupancy still lags behind pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, office buildings remain largely empty and many restaurants and shops have not reopened.

Development will take place in the Bunker Hill neighborhood, a short drive from the Arena, the newly rebranded home of the National Basketball Association’s Lakers and Clippers. There are other large proposed projects in the area, including the redevelopment of the former Los Angeles Times offices and a proposed $2 billion, 10-building complex near downtown Skid Row. The Grand by Gehry, a $1 billion mixed-use development by New York-based Related Cos. and designed by Frank Gehry, opening this year.

Homeless camps and rising crime have fueled a sense of chaos, keeping residents and businesses away from the city, according to MacFarlane, whose firm was a development partner on projects including New York’s Time Warner Center and 15 Central Park West. He is optimistic that he is ready to do a better job to address the problems.

“People are tired and they’re going to get serious about homelessness and crime now,” MacFarlane said. “And that moment is completely intertwined with our project.”

© 2022 Bloomberg LP

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