Empty Office Building Finds Some Love:
1100 Wilshire Converted to Condos
The 22-story triangular spire, hovering over the west side
of the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, sat virtually
vacant for nearly 20 years before a trio of developers bought
it in 2004. Next month, completion of the $50-million project
will produce 230 high-end condominiums in about 260,000 sq.
ft. of living space.
A view of the pool area of the 1100
Wilshire building in downtown Los Angeles (photo by
It took nearly 20 years of neglect before a 37-story office
building near downtown Los Angeles found some loving developers.
"We are excited about this project," said Greg
Vilkin, president of Los Angeles-based Forest City West Residential.
"Being on the west side of the 110 Freeway, it has the
best views in Los Angeles-360 degrees in every single unit."
The tower, dubbed 1100 Wilshire for its address, is a 430,000-sq.-ft.
(259,469 sq.-ft. of living space) building on the southwest
corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Bixel Street that was built
in 1986 as the Rolls Royce Office Tower. It remained practically
vacant until Forest City, along with MacFarlane Partners and
TMG Partners, both of San Francisco, purchased it in July
2004 for $40 million from Format Corp., a subsidiary of Taiwan-based
"Unfortunately for the former owner, 1100 Wilshire was
completed when there was an overabundance of newly completed
office space and just before the recession of the early 1990s,
both of which dramatically affected the office market in downtown
Los Angeles," said David Dressler, chief acquisition
officer for MacFarlane Partners.
"In addition, the property was at a disadvantage relative
to other office buildings nearby because it is separated from
the main financial district by the 110 Freeway. It was probably
hard to attract a lot of large tenants on a long-term basis."
The $50-million project consists of the conversion of the
496-ft.-tall structure into 230 luxury condominiums for sale
and 11,000 sq. ft. of lower-level retail for lease.
Floor plans range from 788 sq. ft. for studios to 3,466 sq.
ft. for four penthouses. One bedroom, two-bedroom and two-story
loft-style plans also will be available, as well as custom
layouts, Vilkin said. Prices range from the high-$400,000s
to nearly $2 million.
Irvine-based Thomas P. Cox: Architects Inc. and Los Angeles-based
AC Martin Partners are the project architects. Webcor Builders
of San Mateo is the general contractor.
Unlike boxy Los Angeles high-rises, 1100 Wilshire is distinguished
by a 22-story triangular tower-clad in blue-green mirrored
glass-that is perched on top of a 15-story granite and concrete
Vilkin said rerouting the plumbing systems posed the greatest
"On every floor, and when you do 12 units per floor,
you have 24 cores for bathrooms and kitchens," he said.
"You have to re-core the building 37 stories high."
Ken Wipff, Webcor's senior project manager, said, "You
basically have to stack up all the bathrooms" from the
bottom floor to the top.
"You don't want horizontal runs in your plumbing because
if you take the plumbing down through a floor, you are basically
in the ceiling of the residence below," he added. "You
don't want to have to go into somebody's bedroom and say,
'Hey, I need to get into your ceiling to snake out my plumbing.'
So everything has to be vertical."
The 1100 Wilshire Building consist
of 230 condos in a 22-story building that sits atop
a 17-story parking garage with 500 spaces (photo by
With 350 bathrooms, as well as a myriad of holes for kitchens,
heating, cooling and electric, Wipff said the project required
more than 300 cores on every floor. He said crews used a laser
to precisely line up all the holes on the tower's 22 floors.
"What we did was lay out a typical floor, drill the
holes where we want them, confirm that is where we want them
and then use a laser to laser down and up," Wipff added.
"What is interesting about this is that if you stand
on the bottom floor and look up, you look up 22 floors with
6-in. cores that are dead on."
The conversion began with interior demolition in September
2004 and will be officially complete next month.
Currently, the condos are 70 percent sold, with homeowners
starting to move in.
Vilkin said he expects to have that the rest of the units
sold by the end of the quarter. As of December, no retailers
had signed leases, he said. But that should change soon since
several major residential projects are coming out of the ground
just east and southeast of 1100 Wilshire, which should create
the critical mass of residents needed to lease additional
Because the first livable floor is being built on top of
the 17-story parking garage, residents of 1100 Wilshire will
have panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles to the immediate
east, the Hollywood Hills to the north and the San Gabriel
Mountains to the north. And these vistas have been secured
by city zoning changes already in place when 1100 Wilshire
was built, which prevent new high-rise construction in the
The 1100 Wilshire complex includes 700 parking spaces in
four subterranean and 11 above-grade levels. About 570 spaces
are earmarked for residents, and 130 spaces are set aside
Vilkin said that tenants will be given one unreserved parking
space per bedroom and the rest of the spots will be for sale
for between $10,000 and $20,000 each.
Because the structure was built as an office building "we
have twice as much parking as would be required [for a ground-up
residential project]," Vilkin said. "And what is
unique is that we are selling the parking in this building
separate and apart from the condos."