The apartment building will include amenities such as a pool, spa, billiard tables, community exercise facilities and rooftop decks. It will have both surface and underground parking.

Ever since Associated Estates declared in its strategic plan two years ago that the company wanted to expand to Southern California, it has been patiently waiting for the right opportunities.

“We feel like our patience paid off,” Friedman said. “Both locations are great opportunities to stick on the ground with first-class projects.”

Downtown next

Associated Estates’ downtown Arts District project, set to begin construction early in the second quarter of 2014, sits on a 5.6-acre site at 950 E. Third St., adjacent to the Southern California Institute of Architecture. The project is a joint venture with L.A.’s Legendary Developments LLC, which owned the site and partnered with Associated Estates to handle construction and property management.

The project, called 950 Third, will have 472 apartments, retail space and underground parking.

“It’s hip. It’s avant-garde. People are digging it,” Rivera said about the Arts District. “It’s cutting-edge and attracting a lot of attention from investors.”

Rivera pointed to the project across the street from 950 Third, One Santa Fe, a multi-acre, multiuse development with 439 residential units designed by Michael Maltzan to be completed in the winter of 2014, as a sign of the neighborhoods growth.

“With the attention drawn to the projects in the area, its just going to become bigger and bigger,” Rivera said.

The large projects in the Arts District could reshape the gritty neighborhood.

“The Arts District has been on an upswing for some time,” Lustig-Bower said. “Downtown L.A. is becoming more of a city that you want to be in for the evening. It’s transforming into what I hope to be a 24-hour city.”

She said prestigious schools in the area, the Colburn Conservatory of Music and SciArc make the area stand out.

Friedman said in addition to Downtown’s night life and its “up-and-coming” status, an increase in jobs in that neighborhood is what attracted Associated to develop in the Arts District.

Still, not everyone was sold on the Arts District as a residential location.

Mark Tarcynski, executive vice president of Colliers International’s downtown L.A. office, said though the area has potential to grow even more in the future, there is still some work needed to transform the neighborhood.                                                                            

“The jury is still out whether it’s a successful area,” Tarcynski said. “It’s a very rough area with chain link fences which doesn’t show very well for institutional money.”