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Chinese investment is helping to fuel Downtown LA’s development boom

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A new report says Chinese investors poured over $1.5 billion into LA real estate in 2016

View of towers alongside Downtown skyline
Downtown’s Olympia project is being developed by a subsidiary of Shanghai-based ShengLong Group.
Courtesy City Century

A development boom in Downtown Los Angeles continues to reshape the city’s skyline, and a new report from real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield shows that much of the growth in Downtown and beyond has been shaped by Chinese investment.

Los Angeles trails only New York and San Francisco in terms of popularity with Chinese real estate groups looking for American investment opportunities. Seven percent of all Chinese investment in American real estate in 2016 was centered in the LA area, with over $1.5 billion of total spending.

That’s a big dropoff from 2014, which saw $2.625 billion of total investment, but it’s a huge increase from 2012, when Chinese investors put just $74 million into the LA real estate market. 2015 also saw over $1.5 billion in Chinese investment.

The visible effects of this uptick in Chinese investment are massive projects like Downtown’s Metropolis towers and the forthcoming Oceanwide Plaza. The report notes that both projects, backed by Chinese capital, “are transforming LA’s skyline, revitalizing neighborhoods and inspiring additional investment.”

One could certainly argue that projects like Metropolis, which cater to the ultra-wealthy, could, in fact, have a devitalizing effect on the South Park neighborhood, but it’s hard to deny that foreign investment is playing a major role in the area’s ongoing transformation.

Just a few months ago, City Century (a subsidiary of Shanghai-based development firm ShengLong Group) announced plans for a massive complex near LA Live that will include three skyscrapers—among them a 65-story tower that will be among the tallest in the city.

The report predicts the influx of Chinese capital will continue into 2017 as China’s economy slows, though new rules blocking foreign investment deals of over $10 billion could prevent a few of the most ambitious acquisitions.