The Real Deal Los Angeles

Developer Jeffrey Fish is fighting LA over Bunker Hill land

Fish may sue the LACRA for land below the Colburn School
June 23, 2016 10:30AM

The Colburn School at 200 South Grand Avenue

The Colburn School at 200 South Grand Avenue

Updated 9:30 a.m., June 24: Though defunct, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency may be facing imminent litigation.

Jeffrey Fish, the developer behind the Pershing Square Building at Fifth and Hill Streets, is at odds with the dissolved government agency over three parcels of land on Bunker Hill, the most contentious of which is the lot underneath the Colburn School of performing arts.

Last October, CRA officials notified Fish that his company, JMF Development, won the auction of the Colburn School land with its $1.6 million bid, L.A. Downtown News reported. Under the school’s lease agreement, it had 60 days to match the offer in order to keep the property.

But during the pending deal, JMF discovered that CRA staff and Colburn had worked out a different plan (via the school’s right of first refusal): to sell the land to Colburn for $180,000.

Although this decision was never approved, the sale is now stuck in limbo. JMF may file a lawsuit.

“[T]he placement of the Colburn School direct sale agreement on the agenda for approval at the December board meetings…occurred without anyone informing the winning bidder, JMF, that the rules were being changed in the middle of the game,” JMF attorney Shinaan Krakowsky wrote in a memo.

Fish’s plans for the three parcels, the other two of which are occupied by the Omni Hotel the Angels Flight historic landmark, remain unclear. The Colburn School, regardless of the outcome of the sale conflict, is still early into its 99-year round lease. Angels Flight has a prepaid lease through 2082. Omni also has a long-term lease.

JMF argues that CRA must abide by the state law outlining its dissolution, which states that the agency must prioritize profit when selling its remaining assets. [LADT News]Cathaleen Chen