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It's Back On, Baby! Hollywood's Madrone Sells, Work Will Resume

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This is news that should make neighbors living next to this tagged-up ghost building very happy. The Madrone, an 180-unit project at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, sold at a trustee sale on August 12th, according to Susan Wilson, Senior Vice President, Investment Underwriting at Resmark Equity Partners, a local real estate investment firm. The only bidder, Resmark (which was also one of the original investors on Madrone) bid $20 million for the project. "We have owned it free and clear for two weeks now," Wilson tells us. The Madrone name has been dropped, and for now, the project, which ceased construction back in January, is being called 1633 North La Brea.

First a little background: Back on the morning of January 14th, we opened the door to the construction office on Madrone's site, and found Mark T. Ebner, principal at construction company Arbor Building Group, packing up and leaving the project. At that point, rumors were flying that the Madrone project, which really marketed the hell out of itself---perhaps excessively-- had halted construction. Publicity firm Roddan Paolucci Roddan, who was doing press for John Laing Urban, refused to answer any questions relating to the project, referring all inquiries to John Laing reps, who didn't return calls.

On that January morning, Ebner said the construction had stopped because of financing difficulties, and in the months that would follow, WL Homes LLC, which owns John Laing Homes, would file for Chapter 11.

In an email sent this week, Ebner said his company is back on the project, having been retained as construction managers to assist the new ownership entity (officially known as Hollywood 180 Hold Co LLC).

Additionally, he noted that solicitation for a general contractor (GC) has begun. "The GC [is] anticipated to be on board November 1 but no later than end of year – 2009," he writes. Wilson confirms that construction is expected to re-start by the end of the year.

It's still unclear what the role of Cuningham Group, the original project architect, will be. Jonathan Watts, principal of Cuningham Group, which also designed another delayed Hollywood development---the PaliHouse Vine project---says his firm has been contacted by the owners. "They have said that they intend to move forward with the project," says Watts.

Wilson says it's too early to announce much news beyond the sale. But she says that the development will be built out as condos. "We do have plans to restart construction," says Wilson. "Right now, we are in the strategy stage."

(In a bit of confusing news, a publication called Western Real Estate Business recently eported that another company--Tallen Keshen Holdings--owns the project. Wilson refused to comment on the story.)

· Hollywood's Madrone Project Hits The Skids [Curbed LA]