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Century City Shines

Los Angeles

Century City has become a hive of activity, with a proposed new office tower, residential development, and the planned renovation of the Westfield Century City mall. At Bisnow's Future of Century City event, two all-star panels caught everyone up to date on what's happening.

Soccer game, what soccer game? Last Thursday's World Cup match-up between the US and Germany proved no match for Bisnow (at least among LA commercial real estate folks). Some 250 of you attended our event, held at JMB Realty's Constellation Place office tower.

Constellation Place just won an international TOBY in the Earth category. (No one has won the coveted TOBY in the Jupiter category yet.) SVP of development and operations Sarah Shaw says JMB's newest project in Century Century raises the bar on sustainability. Century City Center will include 10k SF of creative office space to get high-tech tenants to move farther east. A transit portal and promenade on the corner of Constellation and Avenue of the Stars, aimed at enhancing pedestrian activity, will haveĀ 17k SF of retail plus a mobility hub offering everything you need to go carless—unless you're looking for a carpool, which you'll be able to find at the hub.

LA Realty Partners principal Gary Weiss, moderator of our lifestyle panel, kicked things off some with pithy stats. According to CNN, Century City's the seventh top-earning ZIP Code in the US, with a median income of $652k and a median home price of $820k. Gary notes Century City is home to one of the most successful malls in the Westfield portfolio as well as the world's largest talent agency (CAA, whom he helped put into 2000 Avenue of the Stars. They can somehow keep getting Keanu Reeves into movies, but they can't get themselves into a new space without some help). "Most importantly, it's home to me." Gary moved here with his family three weeks ago.

Johnson Fain's Scott Johnson, who has designed virtually all of Century City's skyscrapers built in the past 20 years, notes that the residential community around Century City is mostly low-rise, making for "an interesting and animated relationship with the residents." But to the extent that Century City has been successful, provides amenities, and is now becoming mixed-use, "We like to think everyone has benefited in terms of the value of their property." On the issue of mobility, he says nothing matters more than the Westside subway extension, which has been logjammed for decades. "That's broken through, it's on its way," and will be accommodated in the new tower. (C'mon, everyone in LA is always at least a little bit late, right?)

Related SVP and director of West Coast sales Mary Ann Osborn says the company was trying to recreate estate living vertically with its 42-story condo tower, The Century. Unlike the Wilshire Corridor, the site doesn't abut other buildings, and you can walk to dining and shopping. "We thought with the acreage and being behind guard gates that we would attract people out of these large estates in these local areas, and we've been very successful in doing that." In fact, the new buyers tend to be friends of existing residents. (It's like a 42-story cocktail party.)

California Landmark president Ken Kahan is under construction on 10 single-family homes in the residential community of Century Woods. Why build single-family instead of multifamily? "Because I can." While Century City already contains many condo units (and more to come), Century Woods boasts "the only true single-family home community in Century City." Fun fact: Ken's site sat undevelopable for years, having been stripped of its traffic trips when JMB's office towers were built. Having a vacant lot next to Century Woods didn't sit well with the HOA, so a sharp homeowner led an effort to extract trips from Related.

Folks were sad when 22 bronze sculptures along Avenue of the Stars came down after a year-long exhibition. But there's good news: Century City Chamber of Commerce president Susan Bursk says a second public art exhibition is being readied, and the Chamber just formed a 501(c)(3) foundation to raise funds for more arts and cultural projects. Additionally, a new branding program is in the works. According to Susan, when you go into a Century City hotel or store now, there's nothing that says Century City. "It's either LA, Beverly Hills, or Hollywood." We'll be seeing a new Century City logo in the next few months. (We volunteer to wear the mascot costume.)

In the spirit of the World Cup, Gary said he and Bisnow's SoCal operations director Frank Sanchez decided that the panelists should wear Team USA warm-up jackets. Gary invited anyone in the audience to yell it out if there was a score.

We took this of Scott before the program. Discussing the evolution of open space in Century City, he notes that in previous generations, gardens and plazas were regarded as "picture things." Today, "the market imposes more attention on those spaces and how they perform" (think amenities and programming). Open space also has a lot to do with sustainability, such as collection of storm water.

Sarah said she was a little jet-lagged after taking the red-eye from Orlando for the BOMA show. (She looked pretty fresh to us, though.) Gary notes that almost every car commercial you see on TV seems to be in Century City.