Business Journal homes in on a dozen residential developers who, surprise, are building in the L.A. market.
Timothy O’Brien, 46
Senior Managing Director and Partner
Legacy Partners Residential, Foster City
Newport Beach resident O’Brien has been a developer for 24 years. He joined Legacy two years ago after stints at Fifield Cos. and Lincoln Property Co. Among the projects O’Brien has developed or had a hand in over the years are two Wilshire Boulevard condominiums: the Californian and the still-under-construction Beverly West. His latest project, 1600 Vine, looks to be his most impressive yet – a Hollywood apartment building attached to the W Hollywood Hotel & Residences.
Reason I’m a Residential Developer: My father-in-law (Walter Kassuba of Palm Beach, Fla.-based Kassuba Development Corp.), who was one of the largest apartment owners in the country during the 1970s, introduced me to the residential side of the business. I thought the demographics led by the echo boomers would create great upside for the apartment industry and drive more urban development in Southern California.
If I Weren’t a Residential Developer I’d Be: Independent film producer. I see a lot of similarities to the development business, where financial, technical and creative skills are working together.
Most Challenging Development: From a technical standpoint, 1600 Vine in Hollywood. The project took 10 years from start to finish. The combined (apartment, condo and hotel) project cost over $500 million, and was built over a Metro station and on a ground lease with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
My Colleagues Don’t Know: That I am an affordable housing advocate. I am a big believer in the private sector providing opportunities for affordable housing. I think this works best in private-public ventures, such as 1600 Vine, or through investment tax credits. I am a member of the board of directors for Mercy Housing of California, a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing and assistance to over 22,000 families in California.
Favorite Project I Didn’t Develop: 7 Fountains in West Hollywood. It’s a boutique apartment community located in the historic North Harper District. The attention to detail in both the interior and exterior living areas makes this project very unique and makes you feel like you’re in a different place and time.
Best Thing About Developing in L.A. County: It’s a dynamic market that provides for a variety of opportunities.
Worst: NIMBY-ism, which has become so prevalent in Los Angeles. Project opponents have hijacked the California Environmental Quality Act and the project review process and in turn have cost the city and county millions of dollars in lost opportunity costs.
Bucket List: Helicopter skiing the Bugaboos.