The “grand pour” was the center of attention in downtown Los Angeles this past weekend. The continuous concrete pour of the foundation for the new Wilshire Grand hotel and office tower set a record in the Guinness Book of World Records and attracted thousands of spectators. The 1,100 foot building will be the tallest in Los Angeles and west of the Mississippi when it opens in 2017.
The Wilshire Grand is a $1 billion investment by Korean Air and its Chairman Yang Ho Cho. Chairman Cho announced this investment during the heart of the Great Recession when others were delaying their decisions. As a part of the effort to encourage this investment, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger met with Chairman Cho and AC Martin CEO Chris Martin in Seoul in 2010 during a trip organized by the L.A. Area Chamber for the State of California.
Last Friday, the Greenland Group from Shanghai held a ceremonial groundbreaking for another $1 billion investment in Los Angeles. The Metropolis project, immediately east of the 110 freeway between 8th and 9th streets, will add another major hotel within an easy walk of the convention center and hundreds of modern condominiums for new downtown residents. Greenland USA CEO I Fei Chang was the driving force behind this new investment.
Earlier last week, the Chamber attended the groundbreaking for Columbia Square, an exciting development by Kilroy Realty on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. This project will renovate the former Columbia Studios and include residential units and office space for technology companies, the fastest growing sector of our regional economy.
Creating a great city in which to live, work and play does not happen without capital investment and construction projects. All three of these projects had strong support from the business community and from L.A. City Hall elected officials and staff, which did not drag out the time schedule that the investors needed to make their projects a reality.
The next several years will offer many opportunities to attract local, national and global investments to the L.A. region. With that investment will come new jobs, a more robust tax base and a higher quality of life. Windows of opportunity never stay open forever. Government and the community must respond positively and quickly when the time is right as they did in these three projects.