Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fine Arts Building is Steeped in History

One of the most venerated structures in downtown Los Angeles, a richly embellished Jazz Age office tower honoring the arts, has been acquired by two high-profile attorneys for $23.5 million. The aptly named Fine Arts Building at 811 W. 7th St. is now owned by Brian Kabateck and Mark Geragos, who last weekannounced its purchase from a Denver real estate partnership. The Los Angeles lawyers plan to take over almost half of the space on the top floor and rent the rest of the space in the 12-story building to tenants. Kabateck and Geragos, whose clients have included pop star Michael Jackson, have coveted the Romanesque Revival-style building for years, Kabateck said.

They already own and keep offices in a nearby former fire station built in 1912 known as Engine Co. No. 28. It has a restaurant of the same name on the ground floor, where some of the city's first motorized fire engines were once housed.

"After we bought Engine Co. we decided we loved older buildings," Kabateck said. "The real building we thought it would make total sense to own was the Fine Arts Building."

The Los Angeles Times called the Fine Arts Building "one of the finest business blocks in the Southland" when it opened in late 1926 with a private gala for thousands of guests.

The design reflected an era when sculpture was integrated into architecture as a way of expressing the meaning and purpose of a building, according to USC archives.

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