Los Angeles Business Journal
January 12, 2004
Page 5

Beverly Connection Overhaul to Include Senior Housing

Staff Reporters

Six months after purchasing the Beverly Connection, Apollo Real Estate Advisors and Westrust are drawing up a redevelopment plan for the shopping mall that will include condominiums and an assisted living component.

Representatives of the partnership have met with Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss to discuss reconfiguring the block-long complex on La Cienega Boulevard near the West Hollywood border.

Plans include replacing the AMC Beverly Connection 6 theater complex with 65 luxury condominiums, redesigning the retail complex to increase leasable space by 20,000 square feet, to 348,000 square feet, and turning the La Cienega Boulevard entrance into a pedestrian walkway, said Harvey Englander, spokesman for Apollo.

Most notable is the planned addition of a 181-unit assisted living center on the Third Street side of the project near Sushi Roku. The center, which would include a floor for Alzheimer’s patients, will be operated by San Ramon-based Summerville Senior Living, which operates five L.A. County facilities.

“Everyone who is there is pretty much going to remain, but we’re going to reconfigure everything so it works better,” said Englander, who declined to disclose the projected cost of redevelopment. “There’s a real need for assisted living in that area, especially that close to Cedars-Sinai.”

Charles Smith, president of Calabasas-based Westrust, did not return calls seeking comment.

Lengthy process

With an entitlement process that could take between 12 and 18 months, the project could begin construction as early as next year, Englander said. Lisa Hansen, a spokeswoman for Weiss, declined to put a timetable on the approval process.

“(Weiss) is in the process of studying all aspects of it,” said Hansen. “Any changes in an area that congested must be examined for traffic, parking and quality of life impact.”

The plans mark a major effort to reinvigorate a retail complex that has long suffered in the shadow of the 871,000-square-foot Beverly Center across the street and has more recently been hurt by the success of The Grove a mile east.

General Cinema, which had operated the theater complex, filed for bankruptcy in 2000 and has since been bought out by AMC Entertainment Inc. Strouds, which occupied 25,000 square feet, was shut down last year after the company was liquidated, while Barnes & Noble Inc., which opened a store at the Grove in 2002, shut down its Book Star store at Beverly Connection last year.

Between 1990 and 2000 the number of L.A. County residents 65 years or older increased by 71,000, to 926,000, according to Census Bureau figures. But despite the appearance of strong demand, other recent attempts to develop assisted living sites on the Westside have failed.

Last year, Belmont Corp. had attempted to build an 11-story assisted living project along Westwood’s Golden Mile, but its efforts were rebuffed by community members.

Meanwhile, in Miracle Mile, Reliable Properties has spent the past three years attempting to develop a 550,000-square-foot facility at Wilshire and Hauser boulevards that would include independent housing and Alzheimer’s care. Reliable is trying to sell the vacant site, said Stanley Treitel, a consultant on the project.

“We don’t have anything like this on the Westside,” said Treitel, executive director for Beverly Hills-based non-profit United Housing and Community Services Corp. “But it takes a lot of predevelopment money.”

The Beverly Connection was developed by Trident Group in 1986 from a hodgepodge of buildings that date back to the 1950s. Despite its awkward design, Apollo and Westrust bought the site from Trident last July for about $110 million, or $342 a foot. The price is comparable to what Westwood Marketplace fetched ($357 a foot) and more than Pasadena’s Paseo Colorado (about $270 a foot).

If the city were to approve the project, Apollo would have about $1 billion of commercial construction projects in the immediate area. In West Hollywood, Apollo is developing the Sunset Millennium project along three blocks of Sunset Boulevard near La Cienega. That project includes 105,000 square feet of retail and a 72,000-square-foot office building, and will include two hotels.