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Urban Design: A Tale of Two Downtowns

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by Jack Skelley

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How hard has the housing slump hit Downtown L.A.? Two buildings tell two different stories. The Rowan in the Old Bank District has scheduled an auction to unload 79 lofts on February 8. Whereas Evo in South Park has closed sales on a dozen condos in the last eight weeks: This includes a $3 million, all-cash penthouse deal last week - the largest purchase price for a single residential unit in Downtown, ever.

The Rowan is appeasing its lenders, who “have mandated that approximately 50% of the building be sold before any escrow can close” (according to auction website), an admission that sales are in the dumps. Meanwhile, considering just 1,813 new homes sold in Southern California’s entire six-county area during this period, Evo’s 12 sales likely make it the region’s hottest project. (Evo’s deals are actual “closings,” not just “under contract,” as other developers often claim.)

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So what accounts for the difference? Location, location… and design. While The Rowan offers refurbished lofts in an old building in the Skid Row-adjacent Old Bank District, Evo is a sleek, Silver LEED-certified trophy tower, steps from booming L.A. Live, the subway and light rail.