Monday, June 8, 2009

Concerto: Pitch-Perfect Debut at 9th & Figueroa in Downtown LA

Presto! Concerto, the big, bold, new residential tower and loft complex at 9th Street and Figueroa in Downtown Los Angeles is open for business. Concerto has debuted in challenging times in the competitive neighborhood near Staples Center. High-end rival The Ritz Carlton residences is two blocks west and spanking-new-and-“green” EVO is two blocks south. How does Concerto stand up? Magnificamente.

Updated 8/9/09 -- the 77-unit Lofts building at 9th Street and Flower Street is having a one-day sales event on August 29, 2009. Studios start at $219,000 (738 - 782 sq ft). One bedrooms start at $279,000 (959 - 973 sq ft). Two bedrooms start at $449,000 (1,325 - 1,689 sq ft).

Updated 9/25/09 -- The Loft one-day sale event was a great success. All the units sold and there were hundreds of buyers disappointed that they couldn't take advantage of the advertised, low prices. (Turns out the prices were tweaked during the event and discounts were not all that deep.) A couple of new wrinkles in the picture: Concerto's funder Corus Bank was taken over by the FDIC and Sonny Astani declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy leaving the fate of the entire project uncertain. Next step will be a bankruptcy judge's ruling on how the loans, contracts and assets will be settled.

Sonny Astani’s ambitious project was initially greeted with skepticism (including from this writer). The scale of the project is enormous – a former parking lot occupying half a city block transformed into three residential structures, a one acre pool and common area, and street-level retail, with over 1,000 parking. Working against the developer are the residential real estate market and Downtown LA market which are in a fugue state. Several times Astani had gone to near-heroic ends to save this project when his financing fell through. Would he actually make it?

So far, so good. By offering what consumers demand today – quality and value – he should recoup his investment and hopefully make some returns. The design, layouts, finishes, and views are excellent. Concerto offers “something for everyone”: low-rise open-plan units in the Lofts, apartment-style units in the Tower, and floorplans of varying square footage.

The developer’s smartest move is pricing the units to sell. Prices start in the high $300,000s in the Lofts and low $400,000s in the Towers – not bad for new construction (and proposed LEED Certification) and a front row seat to LA Live.

Concerto modelConcerto is still under construction. The Lofts (low building, in foreground) will be completed within a few months. The Tower (illuminated, on left) will be completed a few months later. A third tower (illuminated, on right) exists only in plan. The footprint is excavated, but years may pass before the building breaks ground. The buildings all share a parking garage and a single common area.

Concerto outfitsManhattanites may be accustomed to property shopping in a hardhat, but it’s still an unusual experience for Angelenos. Don your safety vest, goggles, white screw-top hat and ride the construction elevator to a Tower corner unit.

Concerto TowerIt doesn’t take much imagination to appreciate the views. All windows are double-paned. Even as the city roars below the units are quiet inside. Ceiling height is a minimum of 10’4” in the Tower and 9’ in the Lofts.

Concerto TowerFacing west, you can a bird’s eye view of the Pantry CafĂ©, a Downtown institution serving 65 cent pancakes since 1924.

Concerto LoftA one acre common area with a pool, cabanas, barbecue pits, walkways and Tai Chi garden separates the Tower (seen above, with reflecting glass) from the Lofts. The Lofts are on part with the Tower in terms of design, materials or construction quality. Some units face the common area like this 5th floor Loft unit.

Concerto LoftOther Loft units face Flower and have open views of the cityscape. There are garage entrances to the complex on both Figueroa and Flower.

concerto kitchenIn both the Tower and the Lofts, appliances and cabinets are high-end and European. Kitchens and baths have stone countertops and ceramic tiles. Washer/dryers are included with the units. Many Loft units come with a partial curtain wall that slides to separate the bedroom from the living area.

Concerto is an outstanding addition to Downtown LA and in time will become a favored residence. The project’s only faults stem from the fact that the buildings – and the full project – are not completed. Buyers must wrestle with a few risks. What happens if the units don’t sell or go down in price before I close? What if the second Tower isn’t built, do my homeowner’s dues go up because the common area is supported by only two buildings? In these uncertain times, a completed development is different from a project under construction. Completion of construction in the not-too-distant future will help immeasurably in galvanizing buyer interest.

It is premature to judge the building’s prospects: Concerto’s doors opened only a few weeks ago. If interest rates remain low and the economy doesn’t take another unexpected turn, Concerto’s prospects could be bright. Curtain up, let the show begin.

Sold by Keller Williams Realty Los Feliz