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Historic Core Tower Breaks Ground Today

A 10 a.m. groundbreaking ceremony is set for PerLA. The project with a 25-floor rectangular component rising from a curved, 10-story podium comes from SCG America, a subsidiary of China’s Shanghai Construction Group. The architect is CallisonRTKL.

The 450-unit condominium building is the first high-rise tower to come to Broadway in the Historic Core (other housing is rising at the southern end of Broadway in Downtown). Chinese developers have been active in Downtown Los Angeles, but have been concentrated in South Park and around L.A. Live.

“What intrigued SCG America was the old history of Broadway and the Broadway theaters,” said Hamid Behdad, project manager for the PerLA development. “That was one of the main reasons they looked at the site.”

The 10-story podium is designed to fit the look and feel of the surrounding neighborhood. The tower on top is set significantly back from the street.

The design came in response to requirements laid out in the Downtown Design Guide and the Historic Theater and Entertainment District Overlay, according to Daun St. Amand, senior vice president with CallisonRTKL. The result is a project that contains historic looking elements near the base, with a more modern approach on upper levels.

Developer Izek Shomof originally broached the idea for a high-rise at Fourth and Broadway in 2013. He secured entitlements, then sold the site to SCG America for $32 million in 2015. The budget for the current project is roughly $300 million, including the cost of the land acquisition, Behdad said. It is SCG America’s first ground-up development in California.

While many of the Downtown projects from Chinese developers have been heavily marketed to international buyers, Behdad said the target audience for PerLA is locals, particularly Millennials and young professionals, and people who appreciate Broadway’s historic character.

Pre-construction work began last year, with crews demolishing a series of one-story commercial structures. Plans to break ground early in the year were delayed by minor changes to the project.

CallisonRTKL’s design maintains some elements in the original design for Shomof (at the time the firm Hanson LA was the architect). St. Amand said the goal is to maintain harmony with the older buildings in the neighborhood, and pointed to small punch windows (where holes are made directly in the façade for the glass) and concrete exteriors, though done in a contemporary way.

St. Amand said the curve the podium takes at the intersection came out of a mix of necessity and aesthetics. City requirements called for the building to have a corner that allows for pedestrian and driver visibility. The developer responded by giving some units a curving wall.

The building has parking on the second through sixth floors, with residential units above that. Floors five and six also have condos that face the street, with parking on the interior.

The podium includes a four-story, Art Deco-style atrium. St. Amand said a large skylight in the south and southwest will allow it to get ample sunlight in the afternoon.

“The atrium is the heart of the project,” he said. “We have the fitness center, yoga studio and lounge in that space.”

Units will range from 400-1,300 square feet and are expected to start in the $400,000s. The building will include a series of decks on the seventh floor, on top of the podium and at the apex of the tower, with a pool, outdoor kitchens and dog walks. Additional amenities include outdoor conferencing space, a karaoke room and an indoor golf driving range.

The ground floor will have 7,000 square feet of retail space.

PerLA starts construction as a number of adaptive reuse projects finish work or are underway along Broadway, according to Blair Besten, executive director of the Historic Downtown Business Improvement District. PerLA is a sign that the neighborhood is continuing to grow as a residential destination.

“Developing lots and underutilized properties is a natural progression,” she said.

Behdad said that PerLA will help activate the intersection. The northwest corner of Fourth and Broadway houses bars such as Precinct and Bar Clacson, and the southwest corner has shops including DTLA Bikes. The northeast corner holds a commercial structure has been vacant for months.

“The neighborhood needs some catalytic projects to spark the revitalization of this corridor,” he said.

PerLA is expected to open in early 2020.