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LA residential: Could Hollywood stars move downtown?

From John Defterios, CNN
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0415 GMT (1215 HKT)
  • New property developments are on the rise in downtown Los Angeles
  • International and local real estate companies are investing in a host of new city projects
  • Some of the most popular can be found in the city's South Park area

One Square Meter explores the leading architectural designs, city plans and demand for property investment in emerging markets. Join CNN's John Defterios as he visits some of the world's most dynamic cities for an insight into the fast-paced world of real estate development.

(CNN) -- Los Angeles may have become famous for many things over the years -- Hollywood and the Oscars to name but two -- but downtown living is not one of them.

What big star of the silver screen could resist the lure of suburban mansions in Bel Air and Beverly Hills after all?

Now, a host of new city developments aim to change all that.

At least half a dozen major real estate projects are underway in the LA's downtown areas and several others are in the works.

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One of the largest development will see property firm Mack Urban turn a collection of parking lots in the city's South Park district into 1,500 new apartments.

"We anticipate our build out taking between eight to ten years so this is a long term investment and development plan," explained Paul Keller, CEO of Mack Urban.

The company intends to invest up to $750 million in South Park, enticed by the proximity of the nearby LA Live complex which includes the Staples Center -- home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, the Nokia Theatre, and several hotels, restaurants and bars.

This will attract a clientele who are looking to live, work and play in the same area, Mack Urban hopes.

"What's driving investment and development here in South Park has really been the continuation of a massive investment that AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) made beginning with the development of the arena here in downtown," said Keller, in reference to the Staples Center.

All in all, South Park can expect to see nearly 300,000 square meters (3.2 million square feet) of residential and hospitality living come online by 2020, according to commercial real estate firm JLL.

JLL also say land sales in the area now average nearly $500 dollars per square meter ($47 per square feet), more than double what the going rate was just five years ago.

International investors like Greenland Group are paying close attention to these numbers.

The Chinese real estate investment firm have already spent more than $140 million on a 2.5 acre parking lot that they plan to transform into a massive condominium project called Metropolis.

"We see a lot of opportunity here for education and also for urban living," said Ifei Chang, CEO & President, Greenland USA.

"We believe this should be also with the domestic population, it should be an international community here right in the city."

Greenland expects to spend up to a billion dollars on building the Metropolis and expects that projects like theirs -- along with planned infrastructure improvements like the LA streetcar project currently in build -- will make downtown living the next trend in Los Angeles.

If the planets biggest movie stars are spotted moving into the South Park district in the coming years, then they can judged to have been correct.

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