Development firm linked to bribery convict plans Westlake apartment project

Dae Yong Lee awaits sentencing in Jose Huizar scandal

Dae Yong Lee and a rendering of the new apartment complex in Westlake (LA City Planning, Illustration by Priyanka Modi for The Real Deal with Getty)
Dae Yong Lee and a rendering of the new apartment complex in Westlake (LA City Planning, Illustration by Priyanka Modi for The Real Deal with Getty)

A development firm previously managed by Dae Yong Lee, a real estate developer who was recently found guilty of bribing former City Councilman Jose Huizar, is planning to build an apartment complex in Westlake.

The limited liability company called KT Real Estate has filed plans with the City of Los Angeles to build 238 units in two seven-story buildings at 1925 West Olympic Boulevard and 836 South Westlake Avenue.

Plans call for the demolition of an existing 11,200-square-foot, Japanese shabu-shabu restaurant called Shabuya. The proposed apartment complex will have 34 affordable units for those classified as very low-income, as well as a 9,700-square-foot restaurant. Designs also detail two levels of subterranean parking.

KT Real Estate was managed by Lee, who formed it in 2012, until earlier this month, according to an analysis of California Secretary of State business filings. The entity is now managed by Jason Kang, who was identified in federal court records as Lee’s accountant, with registered offices at 1019 South Catalina Street in Koreatown. Kang did not respond to a request for comment.

William Hong, a lawyer who has signed trademarks for Dae Yong Lee, is also listed on the KT Real Estate entity.

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Lee has owned an interest in the Westlake property since 2013, public property records show. In April, he bought the remaining 50 percent interest for $4 million, and then sold the entire parcel for $6 million to HL Properties America — an entity also listed on the project plans.

HL Properties America is managed by Dongwook Lee, though it’s unclear whether this individual is related or connected to Dae Yong Lee.

The project seems to be the first linked to Dae Yong Lee since he was found guilty of providing $500,000 in cash to Huizar and his assistant in exchange for assistance in resolving a labor dispute at one of Lee’s developments in Downtown L.A. Lee had planned to build a mixed-use complex at 940 South Hill Street with 14,000 square feet of commercial space and more than 200 apartments.

Lee faces up to 50 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in September. His entity on the project, 940 Hill LLC, will face a maximum fine of $1.5 million.

Huizar and former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan are awaiting trial next year on federal racketeering charges. Huizar’s former special assistant George Esparza and a Huizar fundraiser named Justin Jangwoo Kim have pleaded guilty to bribery and racketeering, respectively, according to the Department of Justice.