Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Century City Watch: Century Plaza Hotel Gets Stay and Two 46-Floor Mega Towers as Backdrop

Conservationists have successfully prevented developer Michael Rosenfeld from razing Century City's historic Century Plaza Hotel, the 1966 mid-century masterpiece designed by Minoru Yamasaki. Now the public can debate the new plan for the site, which encompasses construction of two 46-floor towers, and will be one of the Westside's largest developments in decades.

The site profile by the numbers: 100,000 sq ft of offices, 94,000 sq ft of retail, 290 condos in the towers, and 394 hotel rooms and 63 condos in the Century Plaza Hotel.  The project is anticipated to come online in 2014.

Our reaction to the plan: wow, that's a helluva lot of office space.  And retail space.  And condos.  Is there a demonstrated need for such a mega-project?

During the economic downturn, the average square footage allocated to an attorney has gone from approx. 900 sq ft to 600 sq ft -- and there's still plenty of vacant office space across Westside LA.  What firms are going to occupy these new offices?  And how much retail do we need?  The average worker has become woefully impoverished and is hitting the discount chains, which are unlikely to come to this Century City locale.  Furthermore by 2014, so much retail will have moved to cyberspace, obviating the need for bricks and mortar stores.  Finally, the proposed condos are certain to be in the luxury vein, and the market is currently having difficulty absorbing what has already come on line.

The project will certainly bring much needed construction jobs to the area, but the developers' optimistic view that this project will be supported by an upswing in the economy seems to be another instance of overspeculation -- that got us into this economic quagmire in the first place.

New plan for Century Plaza Hotel adds two 46-floor towers [Los Angeles Times]