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LOS ANGELES-Developer Upside Investments Inc. of Calabasas is in escrow to buy the former Getty Oil Co. office building in the Mid-Wilshire district and turn the 22-story office tower it into a combination of 260 apartments and 25,000 sf of retail space.

The building once housed Getty Oil Co. offices, but it has been nearly vacant for more than 10 years. The 340,000-sf tower, situated in the heart of Mid-Wilshire at 3810 Wilshire Blvd., is at the southwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue. It was originally developed in 1963 by J. Paul Getty as the headquarters for the Getty Oil Co. and was designed by Claude Beilman, a prominent Los Angeles architect of the era.

Sean Baker, president of Upside Investments, says the Los Angeles city adaptive reuse ordinance provides the opportunity for buildings like the Getty tower to be transformed from empty office space to apartments and retail. Baker heads Upside, along with the firm’s CEO, Gary Simons. Both are principals of the Calabasas company, which has been one of the biggest developers of Mid-Wilshire apartments in recent years.

The adaptive reuse ordinance has enabled many Downtown Los Angeles building owners to convert their office properties into residential uses. After seeing the success of the ordinance in Downtown LA, the council recently extended it to include the Mid-Wilshire area and other parts of the city.

Upside Investments will call its project, “The Wilshire at Western.” The company estimates that it will spend about $45 million for the project, a figure that includes both the purchase from an East Coast financial institution and the extensive renovations, remodeling and conversion of the property.

Baker says the Wilshire at Western units will feature ceilings of 10 to 11 feet with drywall finish, granite kitchen countertops, upgraded fixtures and kitchen cabinets with under-cabinet lighting, upgraded ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, frost-free refrigerators with ice makers, in-unit washers and dryers, polished concrete floors, flexible armoire-style closets, central heating and air conditioning, plus balconies.

In addition, the apartments will be wired for all varieties of the latest technology and a private security system in each unit. Residents will be served by a concierge and greeted by a 24-hour doorman. The penthouse level will include maid service, valet parking and a selection of local, national and international newspapers delivered to the resident’s door each day. Upside Investments also is planning a rooftop facility that will include a garden deck with pool, sauna, a fitness room, two conference rooms, restaurant and martini bar. Rents are expected to start at $1,050 per month for a one-bedroom apartment and go to $2,480 for two bedrooms.

Baker says parking won’t be a problem because the Getty building comes with a five-story, 600-space parking structure with plenty of room for apartment dwellers’ vehicles as well as customer parking for the retailers. Baker has hired CB Richard Ellis Inc. to lease the retail, with Timothy Bower of CBRE’s Beverly Hills office as the listing agent. The developer is hoping to attract a large national retailer such as a bookstore, electronics, home furnishings or linens store.

The developer has hired REA Architects in Santa Monica as the project designer, with escrow expected to close in time for construction to begin in September. The development schedule calls for completion of the project in phases with the first occupancies occurring in early spring 2004.

Upside, which owns apartment complexes and shopping centers valued in excess of $100 million located throughout the Western US, recently completed La Fayette Park Place, a 56-unit apartment complex in the Mid-Wilshire district. It has developed more than 1,500 apartment units in the Mid-Wilshire area since 1985.

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