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How About Condos Instead of the Century Plaza Hotel?

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The front page of the Los Angeles Times' Business section has a big story about local developer Michael Rosenfeld's plans to tear down the famous Century Plaza and build two, 50-story hotel/condominium towers. That's the before and after pictured above. Let's round up the reactions, per the LA Times piece: City council members: Jack Weiss calls it interesting. Locals: Will listen, but already worried about traffic. Preservationists: Very worried. First off, the architect on the famed Avenue of the Stars hotel is late architect Minoru Yamasaki, behind the now-destroyed World Trade Center towers in New York. (Also, it's worth pointing out that down the road, 1801 Avenue of the Stars, the Welton Becket-designed tower is coming down for Westfield's project.) The mayor: Totally on board. A spokesperson for Villaraigosa tells the paper the project would "transform an aging hotel into an iconic destination and a state-of-the-art, mixed-use development in the heart of our Westside." Aging hotel. Ouch.

Next Century Associates, LLC, a partnership between Los Angeles based real estate investor Michael Rosenfeld and an entity in the D.E. Shaw Group, today unveiled plans for a $2 billion mixed-use project on the 5.75 acre Century Plaza hotel site.

The project will feature two soaring towers rising from a grand plaza with a 240 room Five Star hotel and 163 hotel residences, 130 luxury residential condominiums, 100,000 square feet of office, 106,000 square feet of retail shops and restaurants, and a spa and fitness center. The property will continue to house one of the largest ballrooms in Los Angeles.

The project is being designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, an internationally acclaimed architecture and urban design firm founded by I.M. Pei and Henry Cobb known for their iconic designs throughout the world including the Grand Louvre in Paris, Bank of China Tower, in Hong Kong, the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art and the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. The design effort will be led by senior design partner Henry Cobb. Mr. Cobb who designed Library Tower (US Bank Building), the tallest building in Los Angeles, has been the driving force behind the firm’s high rise buildings. He stated, “What excites me about this project is the opportunity to reinforce the original design intent for Century City our firm helped create nearly 50 years ago and incorporate new planning ideals that create a lively, eventful and memorable urban experience.”

The landscape plan and gardens are being designed by Ken Smith Landscape Architecture. Recent projects include the rooftop garden at the New York Museum of Modern Art, Goldman Sachs World Headquarters and the Orange County Great Park.

Michael Rosenfeld, managing partner of Next Century Associates, said, “The opportunity to redefine an urban center in one of the great international cities comes along once in a lifetime. The mixed-use project in the heart of Century City with its public plazas, water features and gardens will connect over 14 million square feet of existing office, retail and residential. The innovative design embraces the future of urban planning with an emphasis on pedestrian connectivity and sustainable design.”

The design effort was inspired by the City of Los Angeles’ greening goals which sets forth a blueprint for future planning in the city’s urban centers. The project is consistent with the Century City Specific Plan and will be LEED Silver Certified with green roofs and environmentally sensitive building materials. Mr. Rosenfeld added,” We need to plan for our future by taking cars off the road and re-establishing a sense of community.”

At completion the project will generate over 1,000 permanent jobs and increase the city’s tax revenue by $7.7 million annually. The total project value is estimated at $2 billion with over $800 million of construction costs and 5,000 construction related jobs. Approvals are expected to be complete in three years. The property will continue to operate as a Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Michael Rosenfeld is the founder and chief executive officer of Woodridge Capital Partners, LLC, a broad based real estate investment company with hotel, residential and commercial assets throughout the United States and Canada and has been active in the real estate business for over 20 years. In 2007 he sold the 24-story Carlyle on Wilshire to the Elad Group, owner of the Plaza Hotel. Mr. Rosenfeld purchased the Century Plaza Hotel in May 2008 in partnership with the D.E. Shaw Group.

The D. E. Shaw Group is a global investment and technology development firm with more than 1,600 employees; approximately $36 billion in investment and committed capital as of October 1, 2008; and offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. Francis Cappello, a senior vice president in the D. E. Shaw Group's real estate unit, said, “We are delighted to play a role in the redevelopment of Century City. The Century Plaza project has the potential to become one of the most significant mixed-use projects in the country. In a period of economic uncertainty, this project demonstrates our high degree of confidence in the City of Los Angeles."

· Developer proposes to demolish Century Plaza hotel [LA Times]