The trend of international corporations moving their headquarters to Downtown Los Angeles shows no sign of slowing down.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the Taiwan-based Chinatrust Bank is the latest global business to relocate to Downtown, deciding to shift its U.S. headquarters from Torrance to the 801 Tower in the Financial District, just north of The Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. LIVE.
“We wanted to be in a major financial area,” said Brian Gregson, head of U.S. retail banking at Chinatrust.
Among the companies that have recently made the move to Downtown include several highly-acclaimed international architecture firms. Gensler, which notably designed The Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. LIVE, moved in 2011 after operating in Santa Monica for 20 years. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the prestigious architectural firm behind Chicago’s iconic Sears Tower and John Hancock Building, opened up its Los Angeles studio in downtown in early 2012.
Like Gensler, the global insurance firm Zurich Financial Services Ltd. also relocated to Downtown in 2011, moving its headquarters from Glendale to the Cesar Pelli-designed 777 Figueroa tower.
Other international corporations that have recently moved their headquarters to the heart of Los Angeles include City National Bank, which relocated to Downtown in 2009 after operating in Beverly Hills for 55 years, and Towers Watson, the world’s largest employee benefits consulting firm.
Downtown L.A.’s draw as a headquarters hotspot harkens back to its days as a major corporate hub in the early part of the 20th Century. From the 1920s to World War II, Downtown served as the corporate headquarters for a number of institutions, especially in the banking sector. Indeed, the Financial District was often referred to as the “Wall Street of the West.” Post-World War II though, the sharp increase in automobile ownership and the development of the Los Angeles Freeway System, along with a more suburban lifestyle, caused many corporate headquarters to relocate from Downtown.
Now, the reverse is happening, with corporations moving from the suburbs to Downtown L.A., and we’re seeing a similar trend among homeowners.
“The zeitgeist of today’s population has now come full circle and residents and corporations, alike, are showing a preference for an urban environment and the convenient, energetic and social lifestyle it affords,” noted Billy Rose, President and co-founder of The Agency.
The Agency’s Mauricio Umansky told the Wall Street Journal‘s Lauren Schuker Blum in October: “I’m seeing a lot of people coming out of their Beverly Hills homes and saying I want to simplify my life [and move to Downtown L.A.]. The reality is there are so amazing buildings that have been built that have been able to give the same lifestyle that the client from Beverly Hills is used to, and with even greater amenities.”
Photo Above: Skyline view from one of the residences at The Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. LIVE.