Up for Grabs! The Pricy Cost of Oceanwide Plaza

Graffiti towers

Step right up! Oceanwide Plaza is officially up for grabs!!! Who will win this awesome bid!!! ??? Already DTLA’s greatest and most cherished tourist attraction…

Witness in awe this modern-day construction marvel coated with spectacular artworks by world-renowned death-defying maestros. 

But, please, somebody tell us… How did we get to this? 

Oceanwide Plaza, the unfinished behemoth that has loomed over downtown Los Angeles for years, is finally going up for sale. 

Once envisioned as a dazzling addition to the city’s skyline, the project became a canvas for graffiti artists and a symbol of city hall ineptness and  unrealized potential. Eye-soar or potential investment the cost to repair the city’s rep may end up competing with the cost to finally complete the investment.

….aaaannndd, with its official listing on the market, Oceanwide Plaza’s has just become one of DTLA’s most dramatic properties.

Oh, the drama! 

The story of Oceanwide Plaza is one of ambition and misfortune. In 2014, Chinese developer Oceanwide Holdings purchased a prime location across from the Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center) and LA Live. 

Their vision? A luxurious complex boasting condominiums, apartments, a five-star hotel, and high-end retail stores. An enormous LED advertisement screen spanning a city block to rival all others was even part of the plan.

However, when financial woes struck, coinciding with a Chinese government crackdown on outbound investment, construction screeched to a halt.

That was in early 2019, leaving the partially built towers vulnerable ever since. 

While heads at LA Live, South Park leaders and neighborhood businesses pled with the city to take action for months, in early 2024, graffiti artists descended, transforming the unfinished structures into an underground urban art exhibit, adding their special touch to the buildings exterior.

The situation wasn’t helped by BASE jumpers who used the incomplete towers for their daredevil pursuits, adding another layer of concern to the property’s woes.

Despite the creativity behind making Oceanwide a household name across the globe by adding their aerosol calligraphy to what’s become one of the city’s most photographed tourist attractions, taxpayers were left with the bill when the city approved $3.8 million in non-artistic tax dollars to clean up the site, appointed 24/7 police patrols, and fenced off the area.

A New Chapter Beckons

Despite its troubled past, Oceanwide Plaza presents a unique opportunity for a new investor. With an estimated market value of nearly $434 million and boasting a significant portion already built (roughly 60% complete), the project offers a head start for a developer with deep pockets willing to reconstruct competing with years of wear and tear thanks to years of the buildings being left to the elements. 

Experts predict that rather than demolishing the existing structure, the new owner will likely opt to complete the project. 

The strategic location, nestled within downtown’s buzzing sports and entertainment district and clearly visible from most parts of DTLA, makes Oceanwide Plaza a potentially lucrative investment.

So… Who will take the plunge?

Will it be another Chinese investor, maybe a rich Arab, or a developer already building local? Inquiring minds want to know.

The real estate brokerage Colliers and Hilco Real Estate will market the property.

The brokerage anticipates interest from major institutional investors. According to a recent LA Times article, likely bidders for the property would include “large institutional investors such as Blackstone Inc. and BlackRock, and cash-rich overseas sovereign wealth funds from the Middle East, Asia, and Europe”

Photo: Gary Leonard (Take my picture)

Starting in June, potential buyers will have access to detailed financial information, setting the stage for bids by the end of July. 

The hope is to secure a buyer and move into escrow by October.

A beacon of downtown revitalization?

While Oceanwide Plaza’s past is checkered, its future could be bright. The influx of residents and hotel guests could breathe new life into the area. The project’s completion would not only revitalize a dormant construction site but also add much-needed housing options and bolster the area’s hospitality offerings.

Only time will tell who will take the reins of Oceanwide Plaza. But one thing is certain: the fate of this massive project will have a significant impact on the ever-evolving landscape of downtown Los Angeles.

Author: Keri Freeman

Military mom and proud parent, artist, writer, musician and film maker. Cocktail connoisseur. Publisher of DTLA Weekly.