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As Promised, A Giant Cake For The Roosevelt

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Yesterday was the ribbon-cutting for the Roosevelt, that downtown 16-story, 222-unit condominium project at 727 7th Street done by local firm Killefer Flammang Architects. And as promised, a giant cake in the shape of the building was brought out as part of the ceremonies. A press rep forwards photos, and the only thing funnier and more surreal than seeing happy people gaze upon a giant building made of flour and sugar--and on a day when even more of your money was burning--is the expression on that one dude's face. What's he thinking about? Meanwhile, the press release doesn't allude to cake, but there is gumption: "Asked how he felt about opening such a major project in the currently trying market, developer M. Aaron Yashouafar CEO of Milbank Real Estate said, 'Our firm has been through several stormy economic periods in the past 30 years and we’re counting on that experience and this extraordinary building to get us through this downturn.'"

Linda Dishman, executive director of Los Angeles Conservancy (left); lady in pink unidentified; Carol Schatz, president of Central City Association, and Aaron Yashouafar, cutting cake at the formal opening of the Roosevelt, a $150 million luxury condominium in downtown Los Angeles.

The Ultimate Transit Oriented Development


‘A Coalescence of 1927 Elegance With A Contemporary Ambience’

Although the housing market is depressed, that isn’t stopping the developers of one of downtown’s most costly adaptive reuse projects from formally opening its doors today (Dec.1).

The landmark Roosevelt, a 1927 office building, started its new life as a luxurious residential address with political, business and design leaders heaping praise on the $150 million condominium as a superior example of a sustainable development and historic preservation.

“Not only does the beauty of The Roosevelt enhance a major downtown location, but it also transforms a non-performing commercial building into a vibrant residential entity,” said Councilwoman Jan Perry. “The quality of the adaptive reuse of this building is exceptional in every regard, and the fact that it provides such superior access to public transportation also makes it the kind of project we’d like to see more of.”

Added Linda Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy, “When the Roosevelt opened 80 years ago, it was inconceivable that this Beaux Arts building would one day be a model of a transit oriented development, but that’s what it is.”

Noting that the Seventh Street Metro station is in the basement of the building, she also praised the sensitive transformation of the building from commercial to residential use while maintaining its distinguished architectural heritage as a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument.

New Life For Seventh Street

Carol Schatz, president and CEO of the Central City Association, hailed the project as “a spearheading development to make Seventh Street an upscale residential as well as business address.”

Asked how he felt about opening such a major project in the currently trying market, developer M. Aaron Yashouafar (pronounced Ya’ shoe afar), CEO of Milbank Real Estate, responded, “Our firm has been through several stormy economic periods in the past 30 years and we’re counting on that experience and this extraordinary building to get us through this downturn.”

Thankfully, he said, due to pre-opening marketing, the project is already over 30% sold – with about half of the buyers being lawyers, architects and other professionals.

“I don’t want to exaggerate,” he smiled, “but there is no other building downtown with our choice location, high caliber of design, scale of luxury, proximity to transportation and remarkable array of amenities—none.”

When buyers go shopping today, he pointed out that they have the opportunity to carefully compare many projects—unlike the housing frenzy two or three years ago when developers acted like they were doing the consumer a favor by letting him or her buy.

Numerous Floor Plans

Designed by Killfer Flammang Architects, which has converted more downtown office buildings in the past decade than any other architect, the16-story, 222-unit building offers a remarkable array of floor plans, including 16 penthouses, which can suit any lifestyle.

Addressing the building’s live/work potential, CCA’s Schatz said the building is an ideal venue for business, professional and creative people who desire to work at home and entertain clients in a very upscale environment.

Interestingly, two of the architects who worked on the building have purchased units there. What impressed Karin Liljegren and Justin Patwin, of Killefer Flammang, was the inherent beauty and quality of the building, originally designed by Curlett and Beelman.

“The dramatic arches and rusticated masonry are so captivating,” said Liljegren. “Not only have all of the exquisite original accoutrements been retained and restored, but the developer’s insistence on providing the highest quality of finish in the materials and appliances (Bosch appliances, Bontempi cabinets, Sub-Zero Refrigerators and Kohler fixtures) speaks for itself,” stated Liljegren, a single mother who will reside with her six-year-old son, Arik.

The array of physical fitness facilities and the fabulous rooftop amenities are also extremely appealing, said the architect, whose son is very excited about living downtown and will attend The Pilgrim School.

To Patwin, who grew up and worked on the east coast, the building personifies the appeal of upscale urban living with the convenience of transportation virtually at one’s doorstep. Besides the Metro station, there’s a choice of buses and The Dash.

Elegant and Hip

“From the minute you enter the historic lobby,” he enthusiastically says, “you feel like you are in an elegant bygone era. But when you go up to the state-of-the-art business conference area, you immediately know you’re operating in a 21st century environment.”

Entering the lobby, distinguished by the original bronze elevator doors and terrazzo floor, “one immediately imagines a setting for a chamber music quartet with an audience in tails and evening gowns,” laughed Patwin.

“It’s this coalescence of the old with the new—the combination of the underlying elegance with the hip contemporary interior--that creates this compelling ambience,” Liljegren said.

Among the architectural challenges faced by the architects was gutting all of the floors to provide a mélange of floor plans ranging in size from 850 to more than 2,800 square feet. Many of the townhouse-style lofts, she emphasized, enable a separation between living and sleeping areas along with good air circulation and varying views.

16 Penthouses

Another of the notable architectural modifications in the one-time office building is the roof-top addition of 16 penthouses, available in one, two, three and four levels. Enhanced by city views, the penthouse units range from 1,250 to 2,700 square feet.

The physical fitness center includes a potpourri of treadmills, muscle-building machines, weight-lifting equipment, sauna, hydro-therapy, tanning and massage facilities. Among the lavish rooftop highlights are a pool, lounge area, cabanas for private entertaining, an eight-foot-wide fire pit and a cascading water feature. There’s also a community wine cellar with personal storage facilities.

This aura of luxury is echoed in the 24-hour valet parking area, where a 60-foot linear fountain welcomes residents and their guests.

Plans also call for two white tablecloth restaurants to flank the arcade entry on Seventh Street, plus a coffee shop and market, the developer reported.

The price for living in this enclave of luxury: lofts start at about $480,000, and penthouses range from $1.3 million to $2.3 million.

The building, which is owned by Roosevelt Lofts, LLC, is the newest project of Milbank, which also manages the 300,000 square-foot office building, Figueroa Tower, at 660 Figueroa St.; Encino Corporate Plaza in the San Fernando Valley; and other major projects in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Houston, Oklahoma City and New York.