For a man once referred to as the “homeless billionaire,” investor Nicolas Berggruen is certainly putting down serious roots in Los Angeles.
Last year, Berggruen announced plans for a $500 million headquarters for his public policy think tank, the Berggruen Institute, to be constructed in the Santa Monica Mountains—he calls the project a “secular monastery.” Then, in April, the philanthropist paid over $40 million for an 11-bedroom mansion once owned by Hollywood socialite Edith Mayer Goetz.
Now, Berggruen has announced that his institute will open a second location closer to the city center. Located at 2500 West Seventh Street, the think tank will set up shop in a Spanish-style structure just a block from MacArthur Park.
Built in 1924, the 20,500-square-foot property will be renovated by Spanish architecture firm SelgasCano. Eventually, the building will include offices, work space for “scholars and thought leaders,” and public event facilities for lectures, performances, and exhibitions.
According to Berggruen, the new venue will provide the institute with a better connection to the urban core of the city it plans, in part, to study.
“This, for us, represents a community investment and commitment to Los Angeles—specifically MacArthur Park, a neighborhood which reflects both local and global challenges of urbanization,” Berggruen says.
A press release from the institute notes that public programs and “symposia” at the new location will allow the institute to “engage the local communities of MacArthur Park and Downtown.”
Asked by the Los Angeles Times whether longtime MacArthur Park residents might see the think tank’s arrival as a sign of the area’s gentrification, Berggruen said, simply, “MacArthur Park is an area that will transform with us or without us. You might as well do it in a way that is productive and dignified.”
The investor tells the Times that the center will open in about two years.