Chinese developer says LA is epitome of “new economy”

Stuart Morkun and a rendering of Olympia at 1001 West Olympic Boulevard (Credit: LinkedIn, City Century)
Stuart Morkun and a rendering of Olympia at 1001 West Olympic Boulevard (Credit: LinkedIn, City Century)

“Go big or go home” may not be an ancient Chinese proverb, but it certainly applies to newcomer City Century’s latest South Park development.

City Century, the American affiliate of Shanghai’s Shenglong Group, recently announced its plans to build a three-tower, 1,367-unit complex along Olympic Boulevard, just across the street from L.A. Live. It filed the proposed project with City Planning. 

Dubbed Olympia, the development at 1001 West Olympic Boulevard, which could cost up to $1 billion, is City Century’s fourth project in the works. Its first three — two others in Downtown Los Angeles and one in Koreatown — have yet to break ground, but are well under way, the firm’s executive vice president Stuart Morkun told The Real Deal.

In addition to the nearly 1,400 apartments or condos, Olympia would include 40,000 square feet of retail and 115,000 square feet of public green space. The site — located on the block bound by Olympic Boulevard, Georgia Street, South Bixel Street, and West James M. Wood Boulevard — is currently owned by the California Primary Physicians Property Group (CPPPG) according to property records.

City Century will purchase the property only if the project makes it through the entitlement process, Morkun said. CPPPG, a general partnership connected to medical company HealthCare Partners, will not be involved in the development of Olympia, he said.

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City Century will not have joint venture partners in the development of any of its projects, Morkun added. Further details on the financing of Olympia remain undisclosed.

Olympia will comply with all the laws and regulations in effect at the time, including Measure JJJ, Morkun said. The new legislation, passed on the Nov. 8 ballot, would require the project to reserve a certain percentage of the units for low-income residents and to hire local workers at union-equivalent wages.

Shenglong is among the recent string of Chinese investors looking to park capital in L.A. The company has no American projects outside of La La Land, according to Morkun.

“L.A. is a dynamic gateway city that’s got all the food groups of the new economy,” he said, “[It] includes everything from tech and entertainment to media and gaming, and that’s what makes it attractive to capital on a long-term basis.”

Last year, City Century submitted plans for Vara, a $100 million luxury 37-story residential tower at 1233 South Grand Avenue. It gained approval in mid-2016, according to Morkun, but the developer is still finalizing designs.

The same goes for City Century’s 180-unit Koreatown complex at 2972 West 7th Street, which also received planning approval this year, Morkun said. City Century’s third DTLA project, located on Grand Avenue, is also in the works, Morkun said, though plans have yet to be submitted to city planning.