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LOS ANGELES-Developer Fred Afari, who converted the Chapman office building in Downtown L.A. into 163 condo units for sale, has instead switched the project to a rental building in response to changing market conditions. “The strategy we developed with Killefer Flammang three years ago is equally viable for rentals,” Afari says. Killefer Flammang is the Santa Monica-based architectural firm that designed the Chapman conversion and also has designed many of the other condominium projects in Downtown Los Angeles.

The strategy that Killefer Flammang and Afari conceived was based upon creating smaller units. “Smaller units translate into lower prices—whether for-sale or not,” Afari explains. Killefer Flammang and Afari reasoned that the lower prices, whether condo prices or rents, would be more likely to attract buyers or tenants.

Built 1912, the Chapman is a 13-story Beaux Arts structure at 756 S. Broadway, at Broadway and Eighth Street. According to Karin Liljegren, an associate with Killefer Flammang, the units range from 625 sf to 1,300 sf, with the average size being 768 sf. Wade Killefer, principal of the firm, points out that the adaptive reuse project involved a broad range of interior, exterior and environmental considerations to remain true to its original design while modernizing the building and converting it from office to residential use.

Among the additions that the architectural firm designed are rooftop amenities including a landscaped lounge. Inside, the project restored the original two-story lobby and its floor-to-ceiling marble walls, grand staircase, brass railings and mosaic floors.

Outside, the building was formerly blighted with signage and deterioration, but the lower floors have now been completely renovated to articulate the original façade. The project added street level retail including a new coffee shop, plus plantings and awnings.

When it was built by the Los Angeles Investment Co. in 1912, the Chapman building was one of the first high rises in Los Angeles. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a City of Los Angeles Cultural Monument.

Before the conversion to living units began, the Chapman building was occupied by tenants involved in light industrial production and jewelry stores on the ground floor. Its location is in the heart of the historic theater district, home to movie palaces of the 1920s and 1930s.

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