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Starwood Group Takes Ownership of Koreatown's Solair

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The green glass 22-story tower at the corner of Wilshire and Western, a project that was touted as an example of the city's push towards putting up big dense buildings near subways, has a new owner. And they're out-of-towners. ST Residential, one of the Starwood- FDIC entities, has taken possession of the Koreatown Solair project, confirms Sally Bae, a rep for Solair. After Solair's lender, Corus Bank, went under, Starwood and the FDIC purchased numerous loans in the LA area (Sonny Astani is currently fighting to try and keep his Concerto building, which has a Starwood loan). The details behind the transfer of ownership of the building, which was developed by Koar Wilshire, a venture of Koar Institutional Advisors LLC, and Archeon International Group*, aren't clear, but according to a source, the deal closed on July 2, 2010.

According to Bae, the building will retain its name, but an entirely new marketing campaign for the building will launch later this summer. "We will have a grand opening in the end of summer or beginning of fall," says Bae.

Jeezum, where to start with this one? A brief history of our jolly green giant:

September, 2008: A construction check reveals the latest look for the project. A representative reveals the 186-unit building is a little more than 40 percent sold out, and insists the sales are hard contracts. At this point, condos start at about $700,000.

November 2008: Aw sweet. Chris Ligan, one of the sales directors for Solair, says he'd like to get art planned for one of the sides of the building. "We've applied to the City Art Department to get art up there so we can fulfill our “art” requirement," he writes in an email. Are those Starwood sharks going to put up art now?

January 2009: Rendering reveals of the retail planned component gets everyone very excited. Still, there are worries the project has too much cement and not enough trees.

March 2009: Building gets its certificate of occupancy.

May 2009: And we're inside! A tour commences. Photo essay this way.Shortly after, the Mayor puts on some white gloves to celebrate the building's official opening.

July 2009: It's sales time! The building has a one-day sale on August 1st that sees prices drop 30 percent across all units.Sample: A 1,300-square foot unit that was $819,000 drops to $570,000, while a 1,600 square foot unit that was $1.2 million drops to $853,000.

October 2009: Everyone's been watching the Corus situation snowball and the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Starwood Capital Group is "emerging as the likely winner in an auction" for those failed Corus Bank's condo loans, including the one, of course, on Solair.

October 2009: Oh dear. Looking to get out of their contracts and recoup their deposits, a group of buyers files a lawsuit. The suit alleges that the developer Koar Institutional Advisors misled them by stating that more units sold than was actually the case.

November 2009: The Starwood entity now owns the loan on the project. In a surprise, Solair raises prices. Asked if the price hike had anything to do with Starwood entity's takeover of the loan, a rep for developer Koar Wilshire insists "No."

And since then, things have gotten very quiet. Calls to Koar principals earlier this week weren't returned. * Updated ownership


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