"The sky is not falling, the sky is not falling.” So promised our downtown developers to members of the Central City Association of Los Angeles at a luncheon held this afternoon at the Biltmore Hotel. Choice moments: Bill Witte (Related Cos) and Tom Gilmore railing on the Los Angeles Times about what the developers perceive as negative coverage of the Grand Ave project; developer Paul Solomon’s impassioned plea to save the decaying Sixth Street bridge; and AEG’s Ted Tanner offering hard dates on move-ins for the Residences at LA Live (first quarter 2010).
Bill Witte, Related (Grand Ave): When it was his turn to talk, he launched into a stern speech, clearly aimed at the naysayers: “We will be ready to close a construction loan by next schedule. It’s a $700 million construction loan, we had a $1.2 billion construction loan for [NY's] Time Warner Center, so this doesn’t phase us.
"If the financial markets haven’t returned to some sense of normalcy, it may take a few more months, but as Tyson said, we think things are improving slightly; they have to get 2008 out of their system. But we will be ready, we have equity, we’re spending it, from now and until then, we'll spend two and half million a month. And we’re going to spend another $22 million in January when we take down the [Second and Hill site] ?to show our commitment...so we remain very excited even if our esteemed local paper is not."
Bigger shocker quote? And this from a man who lives in the OC: “There is no cooler place in California right now than the Arts District.”
Tom Gilmore, various downtown buildings: “[As a developer] if I could be anywhere in the U.S. [real estate] market right now, I would want to be in downtown.”
On Times coverage of Grand Avenue: “What is up with it?”He also said that the “media needs to get with the program.”
Ted Tanner, AEG: “FDIM project is hopefully six months away from breaking ground?”
Said the ESPN Zone production facilities would be "most sophisticated in the world." Targeted opening: April 2009. Residences at LA Live: The condos will open for move-in in first quarter 2010.
Tyson Sayles, KOR: “[The media] is writing that the sky is falling in downtown LA, but I don’t think the authors who are writing “the sky is falling” really know what’s going on.”
Things have gotten better: "The pre-sales market was dead but over the last three months, pricing has gotten better...it's gotten to the point where there's true value in downtown..."
Paul Solomon, Linear: So Solomon skipped talking about his own projects (Toy Lofts, Biscuit), and instead made a plea to attendees to help save the Sixth Street bridge, which is currently facing demolition because it is crumbling. Blogdowntown has the back story on the sick bridge.
How can we save the bridge, Solomon? “Our idea is to limit the bridge to pedestrians and bikers.” He cited the idea of modeling the bridge after Manhattan’s High Line project.