DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - In the column “What’s for Sale,” Los Angeles Downtown News looks at everything from condos to multi-family buildings to vacant lots now on the market. We hope that regular snapshots of individual properties will make for a wide-ranging survey of the overall state of Downtown real estate.
This week, the focus is on the site of the Downtown Car Wash at Figueroa Street and Olympic Boulevard, which is on the market for the first time in 32 years.
The Property: The site at 811 W. Olympic Blvd. has been home since 1980 to the Downtown Car Wash. The lot measures 36,608 square feet, or nearly an acre. It is listed at $25 million.
Finally for Sale: Given its prime location, the site has been the subject of many unsolicited offers, especially during the early part of the decade, said broker Rod Delson, who represents property owner Robert Bush. Bush, an 82-year-old who has owned at least three car wash businesses in Los Angeles, was never inclined to sell — until now.
“People have been trying to buy this off him for years,” Delson said. “The price kept escalating and he wasn’t in a mood or position to want to sell…. It’s finally gotten to a point where the land is now far more valuable as an asset to his family than the income from the business.”
Location Cubed: In real estate, location is king, and the car wash sits in somewhat of a Downtown throne. It’s across the street from L.A. Live, and is on a corner — always the most desirable part of a block for commercial property owners. The site is a half-block from Homer Williams’ planned dual-Marriott hotel, which is slated to break ground in March, and is situated between the Convention Center and the Financial District.
Compared to What: The most recent nearby reported sale was L&R Group’s purchase of a 2.7-acre lot at 1220 S. Figueroa St., which operates as a parking lot, for $31 million, according to seller Ektornet (the price of Williams’ more recent acquisition of land from Anschutz Entertainment Group, to build the Marriott project, was never publicly revealed). The L&R site, however, is entitled for a major mixed-use development with up to 650 housing units. The car wash site does not have development entitlements.
Hello Hotels: Delson said he is in preliminary talks with an array of potential buyers, but the most likely purchaser is a hospitality investor.
“Everyone seems to think there’s a lack of hotel rooms and that’s probably the highest and best use,” Delson said. “We do have people talking about retail with condos above it, but the prime players are hotel developers.”
Largely riding the wave of anticipated business stemming from a possible NFL stadium at L.A. Live, hotel investors have been hovering recently over the Downtown market. Williams’ 393-room project is the only one, so far, to make real progress in South Park. Investors, however, are considering a Hampton Inn on Figueroa Street, and representatives of the long-stalled Metropolis mixed-use project are also courting hospitality users. In the Historic Core, Ace Hotel recently announced plans to open a 180-room property in the United Artists Theater building.
Bad for Ads?: Speaking of hotels, the car wash has been featured in countless TV shows and photos, mostly in the foreground of the Hotel Figueroa. The hand-painted advertisements that cover the entire south side of the hotel have made it a skyline icon during telecasts of Staples Center events. A high-rise in place of the car wash would likely obscure the Hotel Figueroa’s ads.
Skate to the Bank: Some may be happy to see the car wash site repurposed as a hotel. Not included in that group will be L.A.’s skateboarding community, which has long prized the facility’s odd, sloping concrete walls as de facto urban ramps.
Ciao Cucina: The car wash site is also home to a corner restaurant space long occupied by Italian eatery La Bella Cucina. Now, it’s occupied by LaGran Cucina.
Contact: Listing agent Rod Delson is at (805) 277-4017.
Contact Ryan Vaillancourt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2011