By JASON BOOTH
Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and Eli Broad stood together last Wednesday night and called on local business leaders to give something back to their city.
As Riordan presented Broad with the Los Angeles Business Journal’s First Annual Business Leadership Award, he noted that the accomplishments of the SunAmerica Inc. chairman went beyond business.
“He has the biggest heart of anyone I know,” said Riordan. “He applies the same expertise and intensity in charity as he does in his business.”
He recounted Broad’s leading role in raising more than $100 million to finance the Disney Concert Hall planned for Downtown.
“Eli, we’re so proud to have you as a citizen of L.A.,” the mayor said. “The city needs you, you are truly a Renaissance man, and most of all I love you because you are a great friend.”
Broad was honored during the Business Journal’s annual Real Estate Awards presentation, which recognized brokers, architects, development firms and design firms for top performance in 1997.
Upon receiving the award, Broad offered a challenge to the more than 200 people in attendance.
“I want all of you to get behind our city,” he said. “When business leaders step forward, we find that other people from other sectors of society truly do follow. When we see a void we have to fill it. When we see a problem we have to solve it. That is leadership.”
He pointed to the Disney Hall as an example of what can be achieved when business turns its attention to civic development.
“This was a project that was declared dead and ready to be buried,” he said. “But Disney Hall has come a long way from being a symbol of apathy to one of unity, strength and true celebration.”
Broad called on the business community to rally around the revitalization of downtown and outlined his vision of an arts and cultural center centered on Disney Hall and a “new sports and entertainment and convention district” anchored by the planned Staples Sports Arena.
As a sign of L.A.’s resurgent property market, the seven commercial brokers who won awards for top performance together accounted for more than half a billion dollars worth of transactions last year. In the residential market, Ron de Salvo of Coldwell Banker Jon Douglas alone racked up $91 million worth of sales, earning him a top spot in one of the residential broker categories.
“Real estate right now can really go for the gusto,” said Steve Soboroff, managing partner of Soboroff Partners and one of the evening’s presenters. “We have low interest rates and a business-friendly environment in the city. So every night as a real estate person I get on my knees and thank Mayor Riordan.”
Richard Ziman, chief executive of real estate investment trust Arden Realty Inc. and another presenter, took are more cautious tone. “Discipline in new development is the thing we are most worried about now,” he said.
Sharing the stage with Soboroff and Ziman was Ed Roski, co-owner of the Los Angeles Kings, who is about to begin construction on the Staples Arena; developer Robert Maguire, managing partner of Maguire Thomas, who is behind the Playa Vista development; George Mihlsten, a partner at Latham & Watkins; Lew Horne, regional manager of CB Commercial Real Estate Group Inc.; and Robert Osbrink, regional manager of Grubb & Ellis Co.