The Cornfield’s latest project in Chinatown is a 200K sf self-storage facility

Five years after rezoning, warehousing remains desirable in the "CASP"

World Class Capital founder Nate Paul
World Class Capital founder Nate Paul

It’s never a bad idea to build by-right.

That’s the notion behind a self-storage facility going up on a large lot in Chinatown just inside the Cornfield Arroyo-Seco Plan Area, or CASP.

A joint-venture between Barings and World Class Capital, a Texas firm, bought a 2.3-acre site at 1000 N. Main Street last May for $14.6 million. The partners are looking to exploit the demand for self-storage services, which has risen nationally, especially in big cities like L.A.

The 200,000-square-foot project, which will have three floors, doesn’t need a zoning variance and has been advancing through the permit process since last July, records show.

The city created the CASP in 2013 out of a distressed industrial zone straddling the Los Angeles River around Broadway, which included a massive brownfield site. New zoning allowed for creative office and residential uses along with “hybrid” industrial.

JLL marketed the property as an “opportunity to create an iconic space” and a “blank canvas,” according to a brochure from last year.

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In the end, the site lent itself best to a storage building, according to Nicole Mihalka, who led the listing team.

“We were able to yield the highest value to a storage developer because they could build it by-right,” Mihalka said. “It’s the particular zoning of the site that constrained the pool of buyers.”

That’s because the Main Street site is inside CASP’s “Urban Center”—one of four sub-zones within the area—which only allows for a limited range of mostly commercial uses. “Urban Village,” for example, is more tolerant of residential use.

Other bidders pitched a variety of office, industrial, and mixed-use projects, Mihalka said, but those would have required some approval from the city.

Great Value Storage, a subsidiary of World Class, will operate the facility.

World Class wasn’t immediately available for comment.