Over the weekend, a couple of downtown residents sent in reports of what's going on at SB Tower, aka, 600 Spring. Developer Barry Shy (who owns numerous buildings downtown) is punching in holes in the base of the building, a move that is pissing off those who are fond of this 1960s office building designed by architect Claud Beelman. Writes one reader: "The tower at 600 S. Spring is an inspiring example of 60's modern architecture. A building of its kind would never be constructed today, in part because of the pressure applied to architects by commercial developers seeking to maximize efficiency, but also because no expense was spared on materials. It is a one of a kind in this historic core, and was personally one of my favorite buildings. Shy has deemed it acceptable to punch holes in the base of the edifice, presumably in order to build residential units in what was once the atrium. Look at the pictures... He has completely destroyed the building's exterior architectural impact. Not to dive into hyperbole, but I can't walk by the construction site without throwing up in my mouth a little bit." The reader, who is also a real estate attorney, wonders how Shy was legally able to pull this off without getting the City involved. It's our understanding that if this portion of the building was going to have condos, Shy would be required to put in windows. All the city documents (at least that we could find) related to the building, the former headquarters for United California Bank, are here. After the jump, Shy defends the hole punching.
Indeed, the holes are windows for units. Shy told us that he is trying to transform the base of the building to give it a residential look, stating: "This is an ugly building, an 1960s office building...I was trying to break up the boxy look." More holes will be punched along the four-story base, he said, while balconies with glass railings will be put above the base.
The whole project will be done in about seven months. The building, originally scheduled to be condos, will still be built as condos, but leased as apartments, said Shy. But it sounds like the apartments will be sold as condos once the real estate market improves, while ground floor retail is also planned for the project. The Loopnet listing is here.