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Developer Astani Enterprises Plans to Build Condominiums and Shops on the Downtown Los Angeles Parcel

Kenton Hanson

Source :: Los Angeles Times
Date :: September 14, 2004 

Astani Enterprieses, Inc., a Beverly Hills developer, paid $30 million Monday for a parking lot in downtown Los Angeles where it intends to build condominium towers, shops and a restaurant. 

Astani Enterprises Inc. bought the 100,000-square-foot parcel at the southeast corner of Figueroa and 9th streets from Equitable Life Assurance Society. 

The developer paid $300 a square foot for the property, which makes it one of the most expensive land sales in the central business district. Land there traded for about $150 a square foot two years ago. 

"The demand for downtown sites remains insatiable," said real estate broker Carl Muhlstein of Cushman & Wakefield, who represented the seller with his partner, Richard Plummer. 

Construction should start within a year on the first of two high-rises, said Astani President Sonny Astani, who plans to build 400 units in a 15-story tower and a 25-story tower. The project will cost about $140 million. 

The taller tower will face Figueroa and is set to go up first. 

"I'm going to spend the money to make it a signature building," said Astani, who hopes to have it designed in the style of Italian architect Renzo Piano. Piano, who uses a lot of glass in his buildings, has been selected to design a structure for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 

The downtown development, which is kitty-corner from the venerable Original Pantry diner, will include a restaurant and perhaps an upscale health club, Astani said. Two-bedroom, two-bath condos are expected to sell for $500,000 or less. 

Astani also plans to build the $50-million Verona at Wilshire apartment complex on Wilshire Boulevard west of the Harbor Freeway, between Lucas Avenue and Witmer Street. Construction of the six-story tower with 234 units above street-level shops is scheduled to begin next month. 

Astani, who has developed well over 2,000 apartments and condominiums in Los Angeles, said rising land costs downtown and in other densely developed parts of the city would require residential builders to put up high-rise condominiums to recoup their costs. 

"The days of building courtyard garden apartments are over," he said.

Astani also is chairman of West Coast operations for Lambert Smith Hampton, a British engineering and construction firm.