Just how much will the market bear for a luxury condominium in Century City? Try $4 million.
Reversing its earlier plans to convert the St. Regis hotel into condominiums, Related Cos. of California is now proposing to raze the 32-story tower and make way for even larger units.
The developer intends to build a 39-story tower containing 145 condominiums, where the average 3,500 square foot unit would be priced over $4 million, or $1,200 a square foot.
That doesn’t include monthly condo fees.
Bill Witte, president of Related’s California division, said the decision was made after studying the market and determining that units would need to be larger. “Given all the structural work, we realized it wouldn’t be that much more expensive to just start over,” Witte said.
For the past several months Witte has been meeting with neighborhood groups and homeowner associations to get feedback about the project. So far, he said the community’s response has been “cautiously favorable.”
“People seem to generally like the idea of getting rid of the existing hotel building,” Witte said. “Nobody seems particularly enamored with the way it currently looks.”
Mike Eveloff, president of the Tract 7260 Homeowners Association, a Century City community group, agreed there has been a positive response to razing the current hotel.
“From an aesthetic standpoint nobody likes the current structure,” Eveloff said. “People like that the St. Regis would be replaced with a building that’s much easier on the eyes.”
Eveloff said the support of the homeowner’s group is contingent on Related having what’s called a “trip neutral” project.
Each project in Century City can generate a certain amount of car trips as long as it doesn’t exceed the overall cap. The Related project involves less traffic than an office building or hotel, so under the cap the developer could take the excess car trips and either sell them to another developer or use them for another project of its own.
“If Related were to get replacement trips from their St. Regis project that could be transplanted to other development projects in Century City, that would trouble us,” Eveloff said. “If they agree not to use the extra trips that would very likely resolve our concerns.”
Construction has been constant in Century City, where a steady stream of large projects, from the MGM tower, the mall expansion and the new 2000 Avenue of the Stars office building, has been built.
JMB Realty Corp. is proposing twin 47-story condominium towers for a five-acre patch near the intersection of Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Boulevard. JMB Realty told Eveloff’s group it would like to start construction, which would take four years to complete, by 2007.
Trying to block development
In response to the spate of construction activity, the Tract 7260 group has filed suit against the city trying to block any further development in Century City until the area’s infrastructure is improved. In addition to improved roads, there are demands to beef up the area’s police and fire departments and add more schools.
“Our police and fire departments are asked to cover all these new high-rises but they aren’t given any more staff or equipment,” Eveloff said. “For that reason, it’s our position that there should be no more development in West L.A. until the infrastructure can support it.”
Witte said he understands that traffic is a big issue and the company is trying to work with neighbors on a resolution. Related expects to submit its plans to the city in August and then spend up to 15 months in the review process.
Demolition of the existing building will take up to 8 months and construction of the new tower nearly as tall as the adjacent Fox Plaza would take about two years.
“That (timeline) assumes nothing unusual will happen,” Witte said, “but in this business it almost always does.”