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Construction restarting at Oceanwide Plaza as debt soars to $98.6M

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The $1 billion megaproject stalled for two months

The project sits across from the Staples Center.
Photo by Bianca Barragan

The three cranes hovering over the Oceanwide Plaza megadevelopment in Downtown LA stood motionless on Wednesday morning, but about 15 workers in orange construction vests milled about.

After slowing to a halt two months ago, work is gradually resuming on the $1 billion project in South Park, the development’s representative confirms. While the project seems to be forging ahead, its debts to subcontractors is growing.

In one month, the amount it owes has almost doubled to nearly $100 million. As recently as Monday, a subcontractor recorded a mechanics lien for $1.4 million, an outstanding payment for architectural concrete work, a Curbed review of publicly available real estate records shows.

Curbed reported last month that six subcontractors had filed mechanic’s liens totaling $52 million for their work on the project. Some of those debts have since been settled, but new liens have also been recorded.

In total, there are now nine active liens recorded on the property by subcontractors that have worked to build Oceanwide Plaza. The liens now total $98.59 million.

Mechanics liens are not uncommon in the construction industry, but they raised eyebrows at Oceanwide, one of the most expensive construction projects underway in Los Angeles.

Construction had been on hold since January 18, when general contractor, Lendlease, officially suspended work. In a letter to contractors announcing its decision, Lendlease noted that the developer had “failed to provide contractually required payments for both your and our work.”

Lendlease has yet to file its own lien on the project, and it is unclear how much money the contractor is owed.

In a February 5 statement to Curbed, an Oceanwide Plaza spokesperson said that the worked stopped in order for it to “restructure capital.” It said work would resume by mid-February.

Located across from the Staples Center, Oceanwide Plaza is made up of three towers up to 49 stories tall. The development is designed to hold a shopping mall, high-end condos (some of them Park Hyatt branded), and a large LED screen that wraps around the mall’s exterior.

It is being developed by an LLC of the same name, Oceanwide Plaza, which is a subsidiary of Oceanwide Holdings, a Beijing-based conglomerate.

At the time construction stopped, the development was projected to open in 2020. It’s unclear if that timeline has changed; the developer’s representative declined to answer questions by Curbed’s deadline.