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Chinese investment in LA residential real estate steady

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-09-17 01:01

The view of Los Angeles. [Photo/VCG]

Despite the closures of surrounding offices and art institutions, construction on a Chinese-backed mixed-use complex in downtown Los Angeles continues amid the COVID-19 pandemic with a project expected to appeal to residents in the post-pandemic era.

The long-anticipated project, called the Grand, is a towering collection of apartments, high-end retail, restaurants, movie theaters and a luxury hotel rising on a full city block.

The project was designed by superstar architect Frank Gehry and will sit across Grand Avenue from the celebrated Walt Disney Concert Hall, which Gehry also designed.

It is being developed by New York-based Related Cos with its partner, Core USA, a joint venture of China Harbour Engineering Co and CCCG Overseas Real Estate.

CCCG Overseas is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Group (CCCG), one of China's largest state-owned companies.

With a $290 million investment from Core USA, the Related Cos obtained enough financing to start construction of the project in late 2018 after years of delays.

Though the novel coronavirus pandemic has caused uncertainties in the housing market, industry experts said the mixed-use complex will appeal to residents, especially young people, who embrace the urban lifestyle.

"Mixed-use projects like the Grand are designed in a way that affords individuals the kind of outdoor space and amenities people are looking for during this pandemic," Kevin Dees, director of the estates division at The Agency, a California-based luxury real estate brokerage, told China Daily.

"Combine this with the active lifestyle Los Angeles is all about, it is clear why people are fleeing other locations around the country and coming to this city," said Dees.

Shops and restaurants will be spread among a series of landscaped open terraces, along with a roughly 430-seat cinema complex. The Equinox hotel will have 309 rooms and a 39-story residential tower with more than 400 luxury apartments, of which 20 percent will be affordable-rate residences, according to Related California.

The 20-story Equinox hotel is on pace to top out by the end of the year, and the apartment tower is expected to reach its peak height in early 2021.

The project has reached the halfway mark as construction carries on unobtrusively through the pandemic, and the entire complex will be completed by early 2022, Rick Vogel, Related Cos' senior vice-president who is overseeing the project, told the Los Angeles Times.

According to the developer, the Grand also has technologies to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The goal is make public spaces at the Grand, "touchless, frictionless and cashless", Vogel said, and the indoor air at the hotel should be "surgical suite quality".

The technologies would help limit visitors' need to touch surfaces they would rather not handle, such as door pulls, elevator buttons and credit card readers.

Following the trends seen since COVID-19 hit the US, the Grand will provide outdoor dining at some of its six or more restaurants.

Chinese investment still plays a role in the future of the residential housing market, Dees said.

"While not at the same level as 2018 or 2019, investment in Los Angeles residential real estate by affluent Chinese buyers remains robust," he said.

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