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Developer files for bankruptcy to finish condos near Staples Center

September 22, 2009 |  5:05 pm

Los Angeles builder Sonny Astani, who has been struggling for months to drag his large-scale Concerto condominium development near Staples Center over the finish line, has filed for bankruptcy protection in an unusual attempt to get his project finished.

Astani sold 77 condos in a completed six-story loft building for about $400,000 apiece last month to raise enough money to finish an adjacent 30-story tower that is nearly done. But his primary lender on the development, Corus Bank, was recently taken over by federal regulators.

Corus has liens on the just-sold condos that would keep them from passing through escrow to their new owners next month unless regulators at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. decide to approve the sales. Astani hopes his Chapter 11 bankruptcy will force quick action from a local federal judge.

"This will also allow us to close the 77 units, pay our contractors and complete the construction of the tower, amenities, and the retail space," Astani said.

Corus funded only $157 million of a promised $190-million construction loan, leaving Astani and his partners short of money to complete Concerto at Figueroa and 9th streets. "We, the borrower, are not in default, but the lender is," Astani said.

-- Roger Vincent