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10 Things We Learned About Downtown's Concerto

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Yesterday, everyone learned that Concerto developer Sonny Astani may lose his Pacific Palisades house if he doesn’t sell out his new downtown project at 9th and Flower (he personally guaranteed the loan on the project. As a cautionary tale, let's remember that the West Millennium principals did the same thing on their developments). So it’s game on for Concerto, which recently opened for sales. Today, let’s learn about the building itself. And where exactly that "Blade Runner" LED sign is going. And the arrow points to the dark artwork on the tower. More on that, price per square foot pricing, and sushi after the jump.>>>

1. The Units: Two of three planned buildings are currently being sold. There’s the 77-unit loft building on Flower that will be ready for move-ins in June, and the 271-unit tower at Fig and 9th that will be ready for move-ins in October. The foundation for the third building, another tower which’ll go up on 9th, has been poured, but there’s no timeline for construction of that building. Additionally, a retail structure is planned for the rounded corner at 9th and Fig.

Prices will range from $350,000 for lofts to $3.5 million for penthouses. Overall, the tower starts at $500 a square foot and the loft buildings starts at $390 a square foot.

2. Sales Goal: Astani hopes to sell 150 units of the project’s units by September. At this point, they are “close to having 25 units in contract,” according to a sales rep. There are about 20 weeks till September, so means that Astani has to get 6 units a week if you subtract those 25 units (comparatively, reps for Evo reported earlier this year that they are currently closing about one contract a week).

In the event that units don’t sell quickly, would he consider going rental? “No,” he says. “There is so much competition in the downtown rental market.”

3. Famous Sushi Chef: Astani said he is finalizing a deal with a big name sushi chef from Tokyo to open his first US restaurant in Concerto, but a name for the restaurant hasn’t been determined. Retail is also coming to the loft building: Expected stores are a bike shop, café and a wine bar.

4. LED, Please: Developer Sonny Astani’s much-talked about "Blade Runner"-esque LED panel won’t rise on his first building. And the man is massively disappointed about this fact. He needed approvals for the LED signage, but that didn’t come in time for the construction (the sign requires pins that needed to be put into the cement during construction). When the city approvals did come, Astani had them transferred to the third building, the unbuilt tower. But the overall impact of the LED sign won’t be the same, he believes, given that the sign will now face 8th Street (looking towards Bunker Hill) rather than the more traffic-heavy 9th Street (towards the freeways). “It won’t be the same,” he says.

5. On Not Going to China: Let’s cut to the chase: Some parts of the building look expensive. Where did they spend a lot of money? The glass, according to Doug Hanson of the architectural firm DeStefano + Partners, the architect on the project. “The exterior skin, the big glass panels on the tower portion, it’s a very well made system,” says Hanson. “We didn’t go for more affordable, we didn’t go to China, it was American-made, we went for quality.” How expensive glass helps the design: “I was looking for material that picked up the shape of the building. It gets bigger at the wouldn’t hold its shape..the glass helps the [definition of the shape]."

6. Yes, Downtowners Like Walking
: “How do you make an all-glass building that is pedestrian friendly? ” Astani asks rhetorically. One solution: Adding terra cotta paneling alongside the building on Fig, the idea being that a earthy natural stone at the street level helps offset the glass above. Additionally, a paseo connecting Flower and Fig is planned (it’ll run parallel to the lot that’ll one day hold the new FIDM tower).

7. Yes, There Are Windows That Open: The crinkled steel paneling that breaks up the glass also hides windows; they are called hopper windows. Additionally, the steel paneling works aesthetically. "I wanted [the tower] to look like a wrinkled dress shirt,” says Astani. “To look like wrinkled and smooth at the same time.”

8. Meet LA Live: For better or for worse, the project is impacted by LA Live. Particularly before games at Staples Center, heavy pedestrian traffic flows down Fig. But that foot traffic is part is also going to draw people to the retail space. Referring to Concerto’s proximity to LA Live, Astani says: “We’re still trying to digest the effects of it,” he says, “It’s going to be monumental. There are have been criticisms of [LA Live] but that’s small compared to the benefits of it."

9. Boom and Busts: A former real estate agent, Astani has been through two real estate busts so far (the early 80s, and the early 90s.) What’s different about this one, if anything? "You can’t write a narrative about each one," he says. "There’s excess and then you have to adjust prices.”

10. Know Your Large Scale Art:
At the very top of the building, there’s a large, dark art piece. According to Hanson, it was inspired by the large-scale ads and supegraphics in the neighborhood. Hanson points out that the attitudes towards supergraphics have changed since they originally designed the art piece (err, yes). Astani says the piece was also inspired by the artist Matisse. Also, the piece will impact some of the actual units themselves: Owners will see interesting shadows, for instance, in their units.
· Concerto Downtown [Official Site]