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Inside LA's Asian Development Boom

Los Angeles

A wealth of high-rise residential and hotel towers is transforming LA, and much of the money is coming from overseas. That's why we're excited to host Bisnow's Cash Infusion: Impact of Foreign Investment on SoCal Real Estate, featuring the key players behind these mega-projects, Thursday, Oct. 15, starting at 8am.

Among our speakers will be Hazens Group executive project director Sonnet Hui (snapped recently in Shenzhen, China). The company currently is going through entitlements for Hazens LA Center (1020 Fig), which will be composed of two condo towers and a hotel tower, along with two levels of high-end retail and restaurants totaling about 1.2M SF plus parking. Construction on the first of two phases is slated to begin in 2017. (Hazens recently announced a partnership with Starwood to operate a 250-key W hotel.) Budgeted at $700M, the project (bounded by Figueroa, Flower and 11th streets and Olympic Boulevard) is part of close to $1B of development that Hazens has invested in the LA area.

The five-star W Los Angeles Downtown will be built in the project's first phase, along with one of the condo towers. Sonnet notes the upscale hotel brand is all about design, fashion and music, making it a perfect fit for the project's location near LA Live in the Sports and Entertainment District. As for why Hazens picked DTLA for such a high-profile project, a lot of it has to do with timingDowntown LA now has an appetite for mixed-use development, and with all the projects that are being developed in South Park, there's critical mass. "I think everyone feels that this is the right time for this project type and this project size in Downtown." Sonnet, who just returned from Hazens' HQ in Shenzhen, should know—she was born and raised in Hong Kong, and witnessed its growth into one of the key cities in South East Asia.

Hazens' development philosophy in China is to focus on one region, and Sonnet says the same will be true here. This allows the company to understand the region and community that it's building for so it can produce a high-quality product that's responsive to the community's needs and local markets. Look for Hazens to develop other projects in the LA area, such as its renovation of the 800-plus-room Sheraton near LAX (shown above in a lobby rendering by Gensler), strategically chosen because it's the gateway to LA.

Recently, Hazens broke ground on another Starwood hotel: a Sheraton in San Gabriel, which will contain more than 200 rooms. Sonnet says one of the company's strengths is understanding the complexities of mixed-use development—how a project fits into the urban context, and how to make it a destination. Before the company started design work for 1020 Fig, it spent a lot of time meeting with community and neighborhood groups to solicit input and priorities, including an understanding of scale, community priorities and pedestrian activity. Pointing to a desire to enliven Figueroa and make a connection from the various projects in South Park back to Downtown, she notes Hazens' plans include a large public plaza on Figueroa to bring the community into the project. Want to hear more? Join us Thursday, Oct. 15, for Cash Infusion: Impact of Foreign Investment on SoCal Real Estate. Sign up here!