$1B complex planned for downtown L.A.

LOS ANGELES The project calls for a massive hotel complex near the site of the /*Wilshire Grand Hotel*/, which is located on Wilshire Boulevard near South Figueroa Street.

The real estate picture in downtown L.A. has been grim since the economy has gone downhill, but the news of development is a dose of good news as officials continue their efforts to revitalize the downtown area.

"I think it's a world-class city, and it's crumbling a little bit," said Candyce Columbus, who works downtown.

The plan by a South Korean business group calls for an 60-story glass-walled office building designed to resemble a ship's sail, a 40-story hotel and condo tower and an 18,000 square-foot park. It would be the first high-rise building to be constructed in L.A. in more than 20 years.

The more than 50-year-old Wilshire Grand Hotel would be demolished to make way for the new complex.

"It is a good sign that there is an entity in this global economy that is willing to invest in the city of Los Angeles. It's good for the city and the region," said L.A. Councilwoman Jan Perry.

Several projects planned to transform downtown L.A. into a Manhattan-like metropolis have stalled because of plunging real estate prices, but there are some bright spots.

Small businesses are opening, and upscale residences have been selling at the LA Live complex. Last year, the 10.5-acre Vista Hermosa Park opened up, which was the first in downtown in more than 100 years.

The developer of the new project believes there will be a growing demand for business real estate as downtown recovers after the recession.

Financing for the project is still being worked out, but plans are to begin construction in 2011, and the hope is to have it open by 2014.



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