Here's a look inside Gallery Lofts, the Marina del Rey condo building on Glencoe Avenue now owned by Chicago-based ST Residential. Pricing for the 100 unit-building won't be announced until tomorrow, but the lofts will start in the $500,000s, according to Michael Leipart, senior vice president of sales and marketing at ST Residential. If that price point is higher than other area condos, "we think this is one of the nicest buildings, so we will price it relatively," Leipert tells us, adding that ST Residential "has an advantage over other developers" when it comes to entering the market.
That advantage, of course, is financial. The partnership between the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and a Starwood-led group that bought up Corus Bank's bad bank loans--a deal that was blasted by developer Sonny Astani, defended by Starwood's Barry Sternlicht--allows ST Residential to sell at their own pace. ST Residential now owns or backs four LA-area properties, including the Astani-developed Concerto. Speaking of: ST Residential is still deciding whether or not Concerto will go rental or stay condo, reversing an earlier declaration the tower would stay condo. "We are still in the process of analyzing the downtown LA market to determine our go-forward plan for Concerto," writes Peter Marino, spokesperson for ST Residential, in an email.
As for Koreatown's Solair, another ST Residential-owned property, "sales obviously took a hit" at the building following the meltdown of the building's electrical panel earlier this year, according Marino. Having re-done the interiors at Solair (Concerto will also likely undergo interior changes), ST Residential is re-evaluating the marketing strategy for the building. "The mistake the first developers made was thinking that Hollywood and Downtowners would buy in Solair,” says Leipart, who believes the Solair buyer lives in Koreatown or overseas. "You go to Seoul and see ads for Solair."
Meanwhile, their fourth backed-property, Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, is a different situation for ST Residential as "we’re the lender. We have no control," says Leipart.
Headquartered in Chicago, ST Residential keeps no permanent base in LA. Leipart spends his time flying around the country, visiting the 42-owned ST Residential properties, and it's not unheard for him to visit numerous cities in one week.
A representative for the FDIC didn't return an email with questions about how the government will measure the success of the financial deal with Starwood-backed group, but if there is a finish line, "that's the point where the FDIC gets all their money back," believes Leipart, who adds that ST Residential is "constantly" in touch with the government agency.
If Leipart would discuss pretty much anything related to ST Residential's deals, he politely declined to answer questions about the recently concluded court battle with Astani, which ended with ST Residential taking Concerto. “We don’t want to pick at that scab," he said.
· Meet the Parents! ST Residential Talks Solair, Terranea Resort, More [Curbed LA]