Leo Grifka left HQ Creative Office earlier this year to start his own Century City-based development firm, Grifka Group.
The 30-year-old developer’s first project, now under construction, is a 49-key boutique hotel rising in Downtown Culver City. The roughly 19,000-square-foot, $20 million project is an adaptive reuse of the historic 1927-built West End Hotel at 3927 Van Buren Place.
Grifka Group acquired the shuttered hotel in Dec. 2016 for $8.25 million, according to property records. It was in drab condition at the time with bad structural issues, Grifka told The Real Deal.
His firm began construction on the landmarked building earlier this month — keeping its original frame, but gutting the rest, he said. He expects to wrap up the project by September 2018. The reimagined hotel will have a full bar, designer bathrooms, a restaurant and a commercial kitchen. Select rooms come with courtyards.
Rates for the Shubin Donaldson-designed hotel have not yet been set. The Culver Hotel down the road costs $280 per night.
For Grifka, the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree. His former firm HQ Creative is focused heavily on adaptive reuse projects for single-tenant office spaces — with a hospitality lean. At his new firm, redevelopment remains the constant — not product type.
“I’m sort of asset class agnostic,” Grifka said. “We’re going to be doing opportunistic development, which could be hotel, apartment, creative office, anything, as long as it makes sense.”
While working with Robert Herscu’s HQ Creative, Grifka helped to transform a former motel into a 35-unit co-living development, and to revamp a 40,000-square-foot warehouse into a quirky office building a year ago. During his four years with the firm, he worked on 14 creative offices scattered around Los Angeles, he said.
While he brought in outside investors on the West End, Grifka plans on raising an undisclosed amount of money in a fund to acquire properties in “A locations” throughout Los Angeles.
“We went really high end at HQ; we were going above and beyond,” Grifka said. “I’m bringing that sort of mentality to the developments that I’m doing under Grifka Group.”