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Amid slump, one part of downtown remains hot

April 7, 2009 |  8:11 am

While the bad economy has dramatically slowed new development in downtown L.A., one section of the city center remains highly attractive to builders.

Over the last week, two developers have proposed huge projects along the Figueroa corridor near Staples Center in South Park. Both are proposed by Korean developers and underscore how the South Park area has emerged as a hot spot for development.

L.A. Live, the entertainment complex, debuted last year. Numerous residential towers and a hotel are rising around it, altering the city's skyline. With Staples Center and the Nokia Theater, the neighborhood is bustling on many nights, the kind of urban flavor downtown boosters have long wanted. 

Other parts of downtown have not fared as well. The Grand Avenue project on Bunker Hill has faced numerous delays, though officials vow it will be built. Another huge developer next to Pershing Square has also faced delays, also because of financing issues (it remains unclear whether the two new proposed developments will face similar challenges).

The two proposed developments along Figueroa would further change the city's skyline.

A proposed 43-story downtown skyscraper -- the second such project disclosed in as many weeks -- is scheduled to be considered for key approvals by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission on Thursday.

The condominium and retail complex is being proposed for a site between Figueroa and Flower streets near the Convention Center by CA Human Technologies, a South Korean joint venture, project spokeswoman Veronica Becerra said.

Details of the project, which Becerra said could break ground in less than a year, emerged days after The Times reported the nearby Wilshire Grand hotel would be replaced with a $1-billion hotel, office and retail project that also has South Korean investors.

Replacing the hotel would be a luxurious 40-story hotel with as many as 700 rooms and topped by several floors of condominiums.

Next door would be an even taller building, a sleek 60-story tower with 1.1 million square feet of rentable office space. At ground level would be shops, a landscaped park and a public plaza.

-- Shelby Grad and Rich Connell

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