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U.S. Bank Tower owner plans to build a rooftop observatory for tourists

The owner of U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles — the tallest skyscraper in the West — is building an outdoor observation deck, bar and restaurant on the top floors, portion of a $50-million makeover of the 72-story building.

The famous building, once packed along with prestigious firms, fell on hard times in recent years and was almost half empty as soon as it was bought in 2013. The brand-new owner, Singapore-based Overseas Union Enterprises Ltd., is now detailing planned improvements.

Built in the late 1980s as an exclusive corporate cathedral, the round, crown-topped tower faces fresh competition for tenants from recently renovated historic buildings popular along with young Internet companies and various other creative businesses. Beyond sustaining the building competitive, OUE aims to profit by charging tourists admission.

Dubbed Skyspace L.A., the rooftop complex will certainly be among just a handful of such high-altitude visitor venues in the country. It will certainly be operated by the firm that runs the observatory at the brand-new One Globe Trade Focus building in brand-new York.

Admission will certainly cost $25. A journey to the top of Willis Tower in Chicago costs $19.50 — or $45 for a “fast pass” to cut waiting time. At One Globe Trade Focus in brand-new York, a standard admission is $32, and “VIP expedited” entry costs $54.

The numbers could include up for landlord OUE, said Dave Kerschner, president of attractions at Legends, the entertainment service business that will certainly operate the site. Legends is owned by the Dallas Cowboys and brand-new York Yankees.

“I believe highest and ideal usage of space in that building easily is an observatory,” he said. “It makes sense from a firm standpoint.”

U.S. Bank Tower is shorter compared to the tallest buildings in Chicago and Manhattan, however higher enough to permit views in to Glendale and the San Fernando Valley, also as to Santa Catalina Island.

“I am sure that we are the just destination that will certainly supply 360-degree views of L.A.,” said Lucy Rumantir, chief operating officer of OUE in the Americas.

So why didn’t the original owners contain public spaces at the top as soon as it was built?

The developers were focused on serving elite corporate clients, that could or could not have actually preferred sharing the top of the building along with tourists.

“It never ever occurred to us that it was viable, due to the fact that we were focused on our rent-paying tenants,” said Nelson Rising, that joined charge of producing the property for original owners Maguire Thomas Partners.<!–

Caption U.S. Bank Tower Richard Vogel / Associated Press

The top of the U.S. Bank Tower on March 12, 2013.

The top of the U.S. Bank Tower on March 12, 2013.

(Richard Vogel / Associated Press) See a lot more galleries –>

The 1.4-million-square-foot building, originally called the Library Tower, was 82% leased prior to Maguire Thomas broke ground for construction, he said. The complex of towers on Bunker Hill were highly sought by firm tenants in the 1980s and 1990s, as soon as most blocks outside downtown’s office core were considered unhealthy or even dangerous.

Today, the U.S. Bank building and various other high-rises from the exact same era have actually a harder time distinguishing themselves.

Fast-growing tech and entertainment firms popularized the elaborate renovation of former factories and various other older buildings in to just what has actually became known as “creative” office space. Now lawyers and various other professionals that once demanded buttoned-down offices are looking for hipper alternatives.

U.S. Bank Tower additionally lost a few of its competitive edge as soon as previous owners MPG Office Trust Inc. fell on hard times after the recession. along with reason for rental space shrinking, MPG lacked funds to preserve the property and build out brand-new offices for prospective tenants.

Under brand-new ownership, however, the building is now a lot more compared to 80% leased, according to OUE.

The sky-higher restaurant on the 71st floor will certainly be called 71Above and be operated by Los Angeles chef Vartan Abgaryan, currently executive chef at Cliff’s Edge restaurant in Silver Lake. It is set to open in the very first quarter of next year. The 72nd floor will certainly go on to be leased to office tenants.

The observation decks, along along with space that can easily be rented for special events including weddings, will certainly integrate floors 69 and 70. .

The addition of glassed-in platforms won’t significantly adjustment the lines of the original building design by the brand-new York firm of star architect I.M. Pei, OUE said.<!–

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The business plans to open the observation deck by the middle of next year and maintain it open everyday from 9 a.m. to midnight.

Visitors will certainly enter Skyspace L.A. through a brand-new entrance to the building off of a flight of stairs on the west adverse that were made to evoke the monumental Spanish Actions in Rome. A coffee bar will certainly be eliminated to produce the entrance and make room for ticketing operations and a souvenir shop. The building’s elevators have actually been upgraded to recommendations relocate passengers a lot more efficiently.

Downtown supporters chance Skyspace will certainly have actually a ripple effect on the central firm district.

“OUE has actually seen the lasting incentive of using this iconic building to do something that not just makes firm sense however will certainly become an economic driver for downtown,” firm consultant Hal Bastian said. “It will certainly put heads in beds and people in our restaurants.”

OUE will certainly have actually high-altitude business downtown in the 73-story-tall Wilshire Grand hotel and office building set for completion in 2017. Its 70th floor will certainly have actually an outdoor bar and observation deck.

OUE will certainly additionally make substantial improvements to the reduced public floors of U.S. Bank Tower. The McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant that had been a fixture because the building opened in 1989 has actually been closed to make means for Monkee, a Cantonese restaurant set to open by the end of this year.

Another noteworthy adjustment will certainly take place on the very first floor, where OUE will certainly fill a wall of the lobby along with a video screen 126 feet wide by 17 feet high. OUE will certainly prove to images intended to entice passersby to come in.

“The content will certainly capture the essence of L.A.; the people, the scenery, the celebrity,” OUE’s Rumantir said. “We are selling L.A.”

roger.vincent@latimes.com Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times