Is Los Angeles the new Shanghai?

Chinese developers have accounted for the bulk of DTLA land buys since 2014

TRD LOS ANGELES /
Sep.September 29, 2016 09:30 AM

For Greenland Group executive Winston Yan, the revival of Downtown L.A. looks awfully familiar.

“It reminds me of what’s happening in Beijing and Shanghai,” said Yan, whose company is developing the $1 billion Metropolis project downtown. “Now it’s happening here.”

The Chinese developer — and its cohorts such as Shenzhen Hazens and Oceanwide — has ample experience with mega-projects in its homeland. “Their ability to build on this scale is completely child’s play to them,” real estate lawyer Tony Nasis told the Times.

Indeed, the building boom has become something of a showcase for Chinese real estate companies, which are willing to pay a premium to establish themselves as global brands. Chinese developers are responsible at least seven of 18 land deals downtown since 2014, according to real estate firm Transwestern.

For Chinese developers, foreign markets like New York City, Sydney, and L.A. allow for diversification at a time when the Chinese real estate market has tempered. But building in L.A. does come with a few more headaches, they said.

“The speed is so dramatically different in China,” Sonnet Hui, executive project director for Shenzhen Hazens, told the Times. “There’s a lot of planning and study here, whereas in China it’s just ‘Let’s go, let’s go.’ ”

Her company is developing a $700-million mixed-use project across from Staples Center.

Many Chinese developers are courting middle- and upper-class buyers straight from China, including Greenland, whose Metropolis has been marketed to both Chinese nationals and New Yorkers. Foreign buyers can often pay in all-cash, but with China’s economy in flux, the developers may have to look to local buyers as well. [LAT]Cathaleen Chen


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