Related Cos. is unlikely to break ground on the $2.7 billion Grand Avenue project in February, marking yet another delay for the downtown development that has already missed several start dates.

The likely postponement means the New York City developer for the first time would have to pay $250,000 fines for every month construction is not begun fines enacted in July by the joint powers authority overseeing Grand Avenue as a way to prod movement.

Related has had trouble securing a construction loan for the 3.6 million-square-foot mixed-use development near Walt Disney Concert Hall. And with the credit markets still locked down it appears unlikely that the loan can be secured in time.

"February would be a push under the best of circumstances. Nobody is even talking to people about making loans right now," said Bill Witte, president of Related of California.

"I think the fact that we and many others are waiting for the capital markets to clear up is not a surprise to anybody."

Even so, the delay would be a disappointment to county and city officials who have pushed Related hard to move forward on Grand Avenue, which in its first phase would include a luxury hotel, residences, retail space and a 16-acre civic park.

The postponement also dampens expectations that were raised last month when Related announced it had received a $100 million equity injection for the project from three South Korean insurance companies. That infusion came just six months after Related secured $100 million in equity financing from Istithmar, the investment vehicle of Dubai's royal family.

The $1 billion initial phase was originally to have been completed by 2011 but a year of delays has pushed that back to 2012. But with the trouble in the credit markets it's unclear whether Related could even meet the later target date.

"Until the credit markets unfreeze that project is going to be on hold," said Mark Tarczynski, a senior vice president at CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. and prominent commercial real estate broker in downtown Los Angeles. "It is not the fault of the project or the market fundamentals. It is just a debt problem."

Related has until February 2011 to start the project and would have to pay $250,000 for each month construction is not under way until then under the July action taken by the Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority, an entity of the Los Angeles County and the L.A. Community Redevelopment Agency. After February 2011 the project would go back to the authority for reconsideration.

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