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National Real Estate Advisors plans to add 41 floors of residential units in addition to the existing space at the Block.

Le Bloc shopping center downtown May have a new look.
Washington, DC-based National Real Estate Advisors, the owner of the center, has filed plans to add 41 floors above the centre’s existing 12-story parking lot.
Plans filed with the Town Planning Department call for 466 apartments – a mix
studios, one, two and three bedroom units.


Handel Architects, based in New York, is designing the project.
The Block at 700 S. Flower St. was built in the 1970s as Broadway Plaza before moving through Macy’s Plaza in the 1990s.


Ratkovich Co., which is based at the center, updated it a few years ago. In 2018, the company sold its stake in the development to National Real Estate Advisors, one of its financial partners.


The companies and Blue Vista Capital Management bought The Bloc in 2013 for $ 241 million.


Today, The Bloc has a 32-story office building and a Sheraton Grand hotel, in addition to retail space. Merchants in the center
include Macy’s and Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

“It’s a great project, and it complements The Bloc,” said Nick Griffin, executive director of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District. “You have the quartet of office, retail, hospitality and residential in one place. It’s really a compelling package… and it really speaks to the confidence developers have in the downtown area as a residential market. You wouldn’t be building a project of this scale and complexity on a parking lot structure if you weren’t very confident in the market.


Despite the difficulties many urban centers face during the pandemic, the downtown residential market is recovering. In the third quarter, the average apartment occupancy rate was 93.6%, an increase of 9.9% from the previous year, according to data from DCBID. The average effective rent per unit, meanwhile, was $ 2,734, up 15.1% from the previous year, according to DCBID.


“It is clear that the projections for the exodus from the city were just plain wrong and, quite the contrary, residential demand has come back with a vengeance,” Griffin said. “This project is really convincing proof of that and that the residential market is very strong.”


Other projects with large residential components are also underway in the city center. A billion-dollar project dubbed The Grand will include 436 luxury apartments when completed next year, in addition to a hotel and retail space. A project at 520 Mateo Street in the Arts District will have a 35-story tower with 475 apartments when completed. It will also have an office tower and a commercial space.


But the most recent plans come from Brookfield Properties, which filed plans in November with the city to add a 34-story residential tower with 366 units at its Bank of America Plaza at 333 S. Hope St. The property already has a 55 story. office tower.
The residential project, known as the Residences at 333 South Hope Street and designed by Large Architecture, would replace part of the plaza and parking on the site with the apartment tower. Brookfield is also planning to have a downstairs cafe on the property.


These projects, Griffin said, are important to the continued growth of the downtown area.
“When we look at downtown holistically, we really think the continued growth of residential (developments) is really the key to success,” Griffin said. “We already have the critical mass of offices. “

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