The city's oldest park has long been a draw for the homeless, and its walled setting above an underground garage sets it apart from the streets that surround it.
Park Fifth's developers hope to help pay for improvements to Pershing Square, said Rich Marr of Brentwood-based Namco Capital Group Inc., one of Houk's financial partners.
"We are laying the groundwork" for possible upgrades to the square, Perry said.
As designed by New York architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, Park Fifth would wrap around the Title Guarantee Building, a 12-story Art Deco-style tower completed in 1930 and now being converted to apartments.
Park Fifth also would have a garden and two outdoor swimming pools on the 15th floor. There would be restaurants and stores at street level.
The complex also would be connected to the Pershing Square subway station.
Houk bought the Variety Arts Center on South Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles last year with the intention of restoring the historic theater starting next fall and reopening it as an entertainment venue in 2009.
Namco Capital Group owns and operates about 10 million square feet of commercial and residential property in Southern California. It bought the Los Angeles Marriott Downtown hotel this year.
Also investing in the project is Africa-Israel Investments Ltd., a publicly traded development company based in Israel. The company says it has more than $4 billion of real estate investment in the United States, but this is its first L.A. venture.
Although the taller tower would have more floors than the 72-story U.S. Bank Tower two blocks away, it would be shorter in height because residential stories are not as high as office stories.
A spokeswoman for Maguire Properties Inc., owner of U.S. Bank Tower, said that the company "welcomes the addition to the downtown skyline" and that Park Fifth would "bring critical mass and further enhance the central business district."
Park Fifth developers promise to bring what could be the third five-star hotel for downtown, which hasn't had a top-class hostelry for decades. No operator has been selected for the hotel in Park Fifth, but Mandarin Oriental has agreed to be part of the $2-billion Grand Avenue project, set to break ground this year, and Ritz-Carlton will manage a hotel at the $2.5-billion L.A. Live project under construction near Staples Center.
Project at a glance
The planned Park Fifth development will include:
- Two towers -- one 76 stories tall, the other 43 stories
- A 14-story hotel
- A total of 1.4 million square feet of space
- 732 condominiums
- 218 hotel rooms
- Six floors of underground parking
Source: Times research