Pacific Design Center owner Charles Cohen, in Los Angeles for his monthly visit to the West Hollywood landmark, said he's committed to opening the vast blue and green buildings to the public, and that part of that effort will be the two new restaurants coming from restaurateur Charlie Palmer.

New York-based Cohen, who bought the buildings in October 1999 for $157 million, said Palmer would set up one venue in each of the two buildings, with Astra opening in mid-summer on the third floor of what is known as the "Blue Whale" and spilling out onto a 30,000-square-foot terrace. The Astra Lounge will open in mid-September on the ground floor of the green building, known as Center Green, in a location that has been the site of plenty of other failed attempts.

Both will be accessible to anyone wanting to eat lunch during the workweek and available during off-hours and weekends for private functions. Cohen is convinced that with, viable dining on site, he will fill the long-sparsely populated buildings.

The three top floors of the nine-story Center Green 50,000 square feet each have never been occupied. The PDC is hoping to draw new life to the center by converting the floors to "creative" office space. Leasing agent CB Richard Ellis Inc. has just launched its marketing blitz to recruit tenants to the redesigned space, which will have new elevators installed to provide separate showroom and office access.

The outside of the buildings, now dark and hulking after dusk, will be lighted to make them more inviting.

"People should want to know what's in these buildings and want to come in these buildings," Cohen said, adding that art and design exhibits will be installed in common areas.

Cohen and others at PCD claim they are getting great response from potential office tenants in search of large and medium chunks of space.

Record Industrial Deal

In-flight caterer Hacor Inc., a subsidiary of Korean giant Hanjin, agreed to pay $5.75 million a record-setting price for industrial space in the market for the former home of the Citizen Watch Co., from AEW Capital Management.

In pure supply-and-demand fashion, the 55,000-square-foot, tilt-up warehouse fetched the premium because it was the last remaining available building of its kind in the LAX submarket. Hacor plans to convert the building into an airline kitchen serving international flights, including Korean Airlines.

The 20-year-old building, on 2.25 acres at 8506 Osage Ave., features dock-high loading access, a 22-foot interior clearance and 25,000 square feet of office space, most of which will be removed to make room for food-processing functions.

The building will be ready for Hacor's 150 employees by summer, according to Jim Sullivan, an agent at the Klabin Co., a real estate services company with offices in Los Angeles and Torrance.

Sullivan and Harvey Beeson represented the building's owner in the sale. Beeson and Ken Simpson, also of Klabin, represented Hacor.

No White Elephants, These

Don't be alarmed Angelenos. The giant white elephants sticking up above TrizecHahn Development Corp.'s Hollywood & Highland development are not an omen.

What at first appear to be harbingers of a colossal construction failure is, in fact, part of the developer's plan. The perched pachyderms are authentic pieces from the set of D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance," the "Titanic" of its day.

Griffith's "Intolerance" was released in 1916 and cost an estimated $1.9 million. That's about $500 million in today's dollars, or two-and-a-half times what it cost to film the Leonardo DiCaprio opus, according to film critic Robert K. Klepper.

The film, presented in four parts, was Griffith's attempt to disabuse the world of racist accusations after his first film, "The Birth of a Nation," a Civil War document that offended many with its heroic portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan.

A project official said neither Hollywood & Highland nor TrizecHahn intend for the relics to be viewed as an homage to the controversial director.

"From Hollywood & Highland's perspective, they see the elephants as symbols that connect Hollywood with its past and as a symbol of the future of Hollywood," said the official, who didn't want to be named. "They're great icons. Definitely identifiable, but not necessarily a tribute to D.W. Griffith."

According to Hollywood & Highland officials, the elephants were disassembled and stored in Hollywood before being delivered to the construction site. Each is 33 feet tall and weighs 13,500 pounds.

Staff reporter Christopher Keough can be reached by phone at (323) 549-5225 ext. 235 or by e-mail at ckeough@labusinessjournal.com.

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