Ira E. Yellin
Catellus Development Corp.
Specialty: Commercial development; renovation of historic sites
Recent Deal: Metropolitan Water District headquarters
Call him Mr. Downtown.
In his decades-long call for the revitalization of the City of Los Angeles’ downtown, Ira Yellin has led by example.
Over the years Yellin has bought, restored and relaunched such downtown icons as the Bradbury Building, Grand Central Market and the Million Dollar Building.
More recently he has worked with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on first choosing and now developing a new downtown cathedral complex to replace St. Vibiana Cathedral.
“I’m convinced there will be nothing as important in my lifetime as the construction of a great cathedral in the middle of this area,” Yellin has said of the project. “Downtown still doesn’t have the critical mass that makes you feel it is a place you need to be in order to be connected or part of the community.”
Hired last year as senior vice president of Southern California operations for San Francisco-based Catellus Development Corp., Yellin has overseen research for a possible NFL stadium adjacent to Dodger Stadium and development of a Metropolitan Water District headquarters near Union Station.
Catellus is one of the largest landowners in downtown L.A. and its properties include a 50-acre Union Station site and 10 acres near a proposed Little Tokyo transit station.
The firm also has exclusive rights to negotiate with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to develop the MTA’s property at Wilshire and Alvarado.
For the Wilshire-Alvarado site, Yellin said he hopes to build a combination retail and public library center that can help galvanize the surrounding community. An emphasis will be placed on architecture and retail space that brings out the best of the neighborhhod, he said.
“I’m a believer that architecture can help to define a sense and feeliing of a community,” Yellin said. “It can be very human or if done poorly, very institutional and off-putting.”