Grand ambitions: Related’s DTLA megaproject hits halfway mark

Developer expects to complete Gehry-designed $1B mixed-use project by 2022

CEO of Related Companies Jeff T. Blau, and a rendering of the project (Credit: Related)
CEO of Related Companies Jeff T. Blau, and a rendering of the project (Credit: Related)

The Related Companies DTLA mixed-use megraproject has hit the halfway mark, even as the pandemic has brought many other projects to a standstill and raised big questions about the future of such large-scale developments.

Designed by Frank Gehry, the Grand, which is slated to cost $1 billion, is a block-long project in Bunker Hill that consists of a 20-story Equinox hotel and a 39-story rental and condominium tower. The hotel is slated to top out by the end of the year, while the residential tower is slated to top out early next year.

With around 400 workers on site daily, the Grand is one of the largest active construction sites in Southern California. DTLA’s other megaproject, Oceanwide Plaza, is in limbo as the developer behind it, Oceanwide Holdings, has experienced serious financial issues.

Related is building into an uncertain market. DTLA’s office buildings are nearly 90 percent empty at the moment, brokers told the Times, and the office availability rate may creep up to 20 percent. Hotels are also facing major challenges.

All in all, the Grand will include 309 hotel rooms, 100 condominiums, 300 apartments, around 176,000 square feet of retail space, another 12,000 square feet of restaurants, a movie theater complex, and a public plaza.

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Those are all sectors hit hard by the pandemic, but Related hasn’t signaled any major change to the Grand. It does plan to invest in sanitation measures in common spaces and the hotel, said Rick Vogel, who is overseeing the project for the company. He said the goal is to make public spaces “touchless, frictionless, and cashless” and make the indoor air at the hotel “surgical suite quality.”

The project is being developed by Related and Core USA, which is a joint venture of two massive Chinese companies — China Harbour Engineering Company and China Communications Construction Group. Core invested $290 million in the project, per the Times, and the project also has a $630 million construction loan from Deutsche Bank and a $200 million bond from the city.

The initial idea for the Grand cropped up about 16 years ago, but it faced numerous hurdles during planning. Work started in late 2018.

Gehry, 91, told the publication that health concerns have led his team to restrict his visits to the site.

“I would go more often than I do, but they won’t let me,” Gehry told the publication. “I fly over it.” [LAT]Dennis Lynch