Joseph Hellen, a longtime Downtown landowner who in recent years has created nearly 300 apartments by turning century-old buildings into housing, has what he considers to be the perfect addition to the Historic Core: a 40-story residential tower that would rise between his Spring Arcade Building and the Alexandria Hotel.
The concept of erecting a steel and glass high-rise amidst mid-level early 20th structures might strike some as architecturally jarring, but the 87-year-old Holocaust survivor believes this is a defining time for Los Angeles, and if it wants to be considered a “world class city,” he said, it should exhibit world-class high-rises.
During an interview Tuesday in the offices of his Central City real estate and development firm, Downtown Management, Hellen described how he has scrapped various plans for the site that had been considered over the past eight years. In August 2012, he envisioned a 12-story apartment complex on the property in the 500 block of South Spring Street.
Instead, he has hired a new architecture team, Martinez + Cutri Corporation, which has worked up renderings for the mammoth structure that folks are more apt to see in South Park than the Historic Core.
“It is a show building for Los Angeles,” said Hellen, who spends most of his time in Melbourne, Australia, and travels to Downtown to oversee his business interests a few times a year.
Preliminary cost projections for the Spring Street apartment project’s basic core and shell are $120 million, with the likelihood of a much higher price tag depending on the quality of the residential finishes, Hellen said. The company is looking to create 252 units, which will be built to condominium specs, though the plan is initially to market them as apartments.