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The Grand Seeks To Restore Downtown LA As Cultural Epicenter

When visitors think about places to visit in Los Angeles, among the first that come to mind are Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the beaches — not downtown Los Angeles.

Downtown Los Angeles is usually an afterthought, Related Cos. Senior Vice President Rick Vogel said.

The Grand Avenue project in Los Angeles

But Vogel hopes Related’s The Grand Avenue Project — when fully built-out — will change those perceptions. 

“Our hope is that the Grand could help restore downtown LA as the cultural epicenter of Los Angeles,” Vogel said. “We want downtown LA to be the first thought on people’s minds when they think of Los Angeles, not the second or third thing.”

Vogel will speak at Bisnow's Los Angeles Construction & Development event Sept. 6.

Designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry, the 3-acre, mixed-use project across the street from the Disney Concert Hall and The Broad Museum will feature more than 200K SF of retail, a 430-seat luxury movie theater, a hotel and a residential tower.

The Grand’s 39-story residential tower will have 436 residential units, with 113 described as ultra-premium units and 20% reserved for affordable housing. The other tower will be a 20-story, 314-room Equinox Hotel with 12K SF of meeting space and ballrooms and 27K SF of restaurants and other amenities.

The massive $1B project is expected to break ground this fall.

“We are in the middle of our financial closing process and the completion of the construction documents and all the permits to start construction,” Vogel said. “We are anticipating a fourth-quarter construction.”

With projects like Circa in South Park, At Mateo in the Arts District and Angels Landing and more skyscrapers and projects being developed in the area, downtown Los Angeles is undergoing a renaissance.

The Grand Avenue Project In Los Angeles

Once known more for its Skid Row, high crime and high office vacancy rates in the 1980s and 1990s, downtown Los Angeles in the past couple of decades has changed as more people continue to move into the area and look for a live-work-play destination.

The city’s adaptive reuse policy that allowed developers to convert old office buildings into residential units and the development of Staples Center — where the Clippers, Lakers and Kings play — and adjacent LA Live began downtown’s transformation. Then a fundamental shift began to happen as many residents shied away from suburban life, instead preferring to live in an urban core. 

Developers with their retail, residential, hotel and office projects soon followed. Related was first chosen to develop the county-owned site in 2004.

Today, construction cranes and skeletal frames dot downtown Los Angeles.

“What is great with all these projects is that they all play to a different audience with different needs,” Vogel said. “You have flashy high-rises in South Park playing to the sports and entertainment crowd. There are the cool and funky restaurant-goers in the Arts District. Then there’s a lot of renovations happening in the historic core."

“The Grand will not compete with these projects,” Vogel said. “It will be complementary. We want to draw the experience-seekers.”

Vogel said what will make the Grand different is its variety of food and beverage and entertainment offerings.

“We are going to offer the finest collection of full-service restaurants, first-class hospitality experience, and uniquely curated retail and indoor and outdoor entertainment offerings — all of that programmed for a wide range of ages and price points,” he said. 

“We want to give residents of LA and visitors to LA a destination unlike anything else you will see in the city all in one location.”

Here more from Vogel and others at Bisnow's Los Angeles Construction & Development event Sept. 6 at The LA Grand Hotel Downtown in Los Angeles.