Ever since Charles S. Cohen bought the Pacific Design Center six years ago, the New York developer has been seeing red.
In this case, red is the color of the multi-hued West Hollywood landmark's third and final installment. And after turning around the long-struggling, interior design market center, Cohen is ready to start construction on the building this year.
The building was designed by noted architect Cesar Pelli and first envisioned when the center opened 30 years ago, reflects changes Cohen has made to the Melrose Avenue property to make it viable again.
The 400,000-square-foot red building won't house designer studios; it will be an office building targeted to creative tenants those Cohen describes as in fields such as media, entertainment, advertising and public relations.
"This isn't a building that would likely fit with a large law firm or an accounting firm," said Cohen, president and chief executive of Cohen Brothers Realty.
When Cohen bought the Pacific Design Center in 1999 for $157 million, the blue building was only a third occupied and much of the green building was vacant as well. "The market for high-end furniture showrooms wasn't as deep as the original developers believed," Cohen said.
Cohen converted all but three floors of the green building into office space. Through connections in New York, he signed a long-term lease with Interpublic Group of Cos. to bring in several of the company's PR, branding and advertising firms.
Before the Interpublic lease, Cohen had already begun making changes intended to bring a new mix to the staid property. Cohen added two restaurants, recently taken over by Wolfgang Puck, and an outpost of the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Cohen has been tinkering with the design to include a palm court between the red building's two towers and creating a dramatic lobby above the structure's six levels of parking.
Construction is expected to take two years and more than $100 million to complete, and when the structure opens sometime in 2009, it will become one of West Hollywood's largest office buildings. Cohen has hired First Property Realty Corp. to market the red building. And Cohen believes tenants will come, because the Hollywood and West Hollywood office markets have dropped into single vacancy rates and rents are steadily marching higher.
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