Renovations Underway at Art Deco Title Insurance and Trust Building Downtown

By Bianca Barragan | Curbed LA

A team of developers headed up by Rising Realty Partners is planning to turn the empty Title Insurance and Trust building on Spring Street in the Historic Core into creative offices, says the LA Times. In fact, work is already underway, and the renovation is expected to cost about $40 million. (Other members of the development team include Lionstone Investments and Industry Partners.)

The price paid to the seller, Capital Foresight, was not reported, but redevelopment in the Historic Core is blowing up.

The Cecil Hotel, famed for its sordid history and for providing inspiration for American Horror Story, is being converted into hip micro-apartments, and the Banco Popular building, which formerly housed offices, is set to become almost 200 high-end apartments with a fancy rooftop.

Most of the Historic Core’s new projects have been residential, so this one’s business focus is notable. It’s a return of offices to a section of Downtown that once was a major hub for business and finance. In the early 20th century, Spring Street was known as the Wall Street of the West; it was during this time that the Title Insurance building opened, in 1928. The building is considered an example of the Zigzag Moderne style, which was part of the Art Deco movement, and features murals by noted LA artist Hugo Ballin, who also has work in Griffith Observatory and the LA Times building.

But by the mid-1960s, Spring Street’s rise was over. The Title Insurance building’s namesake company hung around until the late 1970s, at which point it left the glamour of the 11-story building, designed by prolific Downtown architect John Parkinson and his son Donald, for a new location in Rosemead. The structure was, for a time, known as the Design Center of Los Angeles and housed furniture showrooms. It also temporarily housed the Central Library’s operations after fire badly damaged the central branch of the library in 1986.

Rising Realty’s renovations on the edifice—a Historic-Cultural Monument—will include opening up retail space on the ground floor of the structure, putting a restaurant on the rooftop, and removing lead paint and asbestos. Once the conversion is complete, the building will hold about 300,000 square feet of office space. Rising Realty also redid the Pac Mutual building near Pershing Square, turning that space into creative offices with retail.

Kenzie Gallagher