Wilshire to break ground downtown

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The Wilshire Grand Center, located in downtown Los Angeles, will be the tallest building on the west coast when it opens in 2017. Construction on the project began with a Feb. 16 record-breaking concrete pour.

The Korean Air-owned skyscraper will be first and foremost a luxury hotel but will also contain restaurants, shops and “attractive nightlife offerings,” according to the hotel website. The project is part of an effort to revitalize downtown Los Angeles.

The site where the Wilshire Grand Center will be built was originally held by the Hotel Statler. Constructed in 1952, the Statler eventually became a Hilton Hotel. The hotel changed owners several times and underwent multiple renovations before Korean Air bought the property in 1989. Within ten years, they had changed management and renamed the site as the Wilshire Grand Hotel. In 2013, an opportunity to re-develop the landmark Los Angeles hotel became a reality. The building was demolished and the design for the Wilshire Grand Center was revealed to the public.

The design for the Wilshire Grand Center will be a standout in the Los Angeles skyline. Each of Los Angeles’s downtown buildings were designed with a flat roof style as a safety precaution for helipad access in case of fire. The Wilshire Grand, however, will feature an angular rooftop, a design that was made possible by advanced fire safety and building technology in the architecture. The exception to a 1974 city ordinance mandating flat rooftops came from the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The Wilshire Grand remodel set the tone for further developments in the area. Downtown Los Angeles has emerged out of the recession despite many bankrupt properties, and according to Los Angeles Downtown News, there are 88 active projects. Developers Geoff Palmer and Saeed Farkhondehpour announced plans for the area, and quickly others joined in on the surge. Current plans for downtown include new apartment complexes and luxury condominiums, while a light-and-sign district similar to Times Square in New York City is planned for Figueroa Street.