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The Future of Century City, Part 2

Los Angeles
The Future of Century City, Part 2

With major developments poised to get under way in Century City, no one today would dare this Westside submarket "Century Silly," as certain punditsdid back in the '70s. (More like, "pun"-dits, get it?)


Our moderator, Trammell Crow senior managing director Brad Cox,staked his reputation as one of LA's go-to guys for major development projects (like 2000 Avenue of the Stars). Before introducing two iconic developments on the boards in Century City, he kicked offwith the area'shistory, starting with its roots as the home of movie cowboy Tom Mix.


Woodridge Capital Partners CEO Michael Rosenfeld talked about Next Century Associates'plans for amixed-use development consisting of two 46-story residential towers, 100k SF of new retail, and a renovation of the Century Plaza Hotel to a 400-room, five-star hotel with residential units.They bought the iconic hotel in 2008 as a counter-cyclical acquisition, focused on development opportunities for the site. Plans to demolish the hotel caused an uproar, but also "spawned an opportunity to do something creative and collaborative." The developers worked with 15 homeowners associations, two labor unions, the Mayor and Council offices, preservation groups, and Century City stakeholders,obtaining a final development agreement in January. (Jeez, that was probably a lively dinner party.) Michael hopes to get goingon the project next year.


Noting that JMB Realty owns the SunAmerica Center and Constellation Place, VP of developmentand operations Sarah Shaw discussed JMB's plans for a third office tower: the $350M, 700k SF Century City Center. The Johnson Fain-designed project will be the first LEED Platinum high-rise in LA. The project will include 25k SF of incubator space for high-tech startups ("We do think that we can get some of them to come east") and 5,000 SF of retail. A key component will be a 1,300 SF mobility hub offering bike rentals and storage, a place to get transit passes and schedules, or rent a Zipcar, and a connection to the Metro's Purple Line. The site was originally entitled for high-rise residential in 2006, but with six residential projects approved and no office buildings built since '06, JMB is reentitling thesite for office. Most likely opening: 2016.


Allen Matkins' Patrick Perry gavean update on litigation stemming over theproposed subway station. Originally planned at Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars,the new location (Constellation and AOS)will require a tunnel below Beverly Hills High School. Thatdidn't sit well with folks in Beverly Hills, which filed suit last fall. (Beverly Hills: 9021-No.) One reason it's important: The Century City North Specific Plan, adopted some 30 years ago, ties development rightsto trip generation. After 30 years of transferring trips around Century City,Patrick says, there aren't enough left to sustain significant development without replacing existing buildings or making the case for alternate trip calculations based on the future subway station or other trip-reducing modes.


Michael and Sarah both discussed the social aspects of their respective projects. Michaelsaidthe Next Century project will transform the plaza in front of the hotel to a pedestrian-friendly public plaza that creates a circulation element for all of Century City. "Part of the game plan was to reinvigorate the street life and to create a pedestrian scale" for Century City.According to Sarah, one of Century City Center's focal points will be a 40-acre public area on the corner of Constellation and Avenue of the Stars, with tree-lined streets, pocket parks, public art, and a garden cafe. It'll be a meeting place for both residents and employees, she said.


We couldn't put on great events without sponsors like Gilchrist & Rutter and partners Steve Heller and Diane Hvolka. Steve tells us the real estate law firm is marking its 30th anniversary this year, still representing major Downtown office clients from the firm's inception such asJim Thomas and Rob Maguire. Gilchrist & Rutter has been located in Santa Monica for the entire 30 years so is also well-versed on what's happening on the Westside, repping clients who are leasing property in Century City and Playa Vista. Additionally, the firm is doing retail work, having just done a lease on Montana Avenue.