The Everlasting Appeal of DTLA’s Historic Eastern Columbia Building

Posted on Monday, June 3, 2019.

While Downtown L.A.’s development boom is in full effect, the neighborhood’s historic character buildings remain among the most sought-after real estate in the city. Among them is the famed Eastern Columbia building, one of the most iconic buildings and finest examples of Art Deco architecture in Los Angeles. It’s unmistakable teal terra cotta exterior, adorned with playful embellishments, is crowned by a clock tower and neon “Eastern” sign.  One of the largest buildings constructed in downtown until after World War II, the 13-story, 1930s landmark underwent a $30 million conversion in 2006 into 140 luxury condominiums, earning a 2008 Conservancy Preservation Award.

The building has had several notable sales in recent years, including the sale of Johnny Depp’s five penthouses in 2016 and a penthouse sale that same year for $2.5 million, among the highest price ever paid per square foot for a residence in the Historic Core district. The Agency’s Kevin Dees, who co-listed Johnny Depp’s penthouses, currently represents a stunning, two-bedroom loft residence in the building, 849 S. Broadway #611, along with Sebastian Spader. We caught up with Kevin to find out what it is about these historic buildings that draws buyers, even at a time when new product is continually arriving on the DTLA scene.

Why do you think these buildings hold so much appeal as life in DTLA becomes more modern and increasingly vertical?

The simple answer is that historical buildings, such as the Eastern Columbia, epitomize the unique nature of the DTLA lifestyle. There is a certain romance to living in a big open space with tall ceilings and big windows, knowing that almost 100 years ago (and in some cases more than 100 years) people worked out of these buildings, during a time when DTLA was truly the center of the city. As more and more new developments pop up, the historical buildings become increasingly unique and coveted.

Are architectural “collectors” among the audience for properties such as these?

Absolutely. We have many clients who will only consider historic properties for their architectural significance, industrial aesthetic, or simple “cool factor.” The new developments are great in their own way; however, the historic buildings never go out of style.

How does the certified historic landmark distinction benefit a homeowner in the building?

Aside from the provenance associated with listing in a historically designated property, the Mills Act program provides significant property tax savings for the homeowner.

Tell us more about #611, currently listed for $1,349,000.

#611 is a large corner unit, with big wrap around windows, upgraded kitchen (cabinets are made of reclaimed wood from a California barn from the 1800’s), and a balcony (only two sides of the building have balconies). What makes #611 unique is the versatility of the layout—an owner can either make it one big open space, or create two proper bedrooms, both with windows, both with their own bathroom.

View more images of #611 on the listing page. Fore more information on residences for sale in the Eastern Columbia building, contact Kevin Dees at 424.281.6848 or KDees@TheAgencyRE.com or Sebastian Spader at 310.995.9700 or SSpader@TheAgencyRE.com.

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