By Andrew Khouri | LA Times

A development group led by Rising Realty Partners plans to transform the vacant Title Insurance and Trust building in downtown Los Angeles into creative offices, a roughly $40-million renovation job.

The Los Angeles firm, along with Lionstone Investments and Industry Partners, purchased the historic art deco building last week and has already begun work on the project.

A purchase price was not disclosed, but the deal is the latest in downtown’s historic core, where old buildings are being revamped and new towers erected.

Earlier this month, a New York City developer revealed plans to renovate the Cecil Hotel on Main Street, and in May another company broke ground on a 24-story apartment tower a short walk from the aging Title Insurance building near the corner of 4th and Spring streets.

Hal Bastian, a downtown L.A. development consultant, said the Rising Realty project marks a milestone for the historic core – once an office hub that declined as businesses left for the suburbs and new high-rises on Bunker Hill.

In the past two decades, he noted, most renovations along Main, Spring and Broadway have been residential conversions of vacant office towers. But with the area undergoing a revitalization because of those conversions, Rising is betting that businesses once again want a Spring Street address.

“It’s coming full circle,” Bastian said.

Renovations at the 433 S. Spring St. building will include returning the gleam to the facade and removing lead paint and asbestos. 

The development group plans to create about 300,000 square feet of modern offices in the 11-story tower – most of which is expected to be of the creative variety, with open floor plans and lots of natural light.

The project also calls for retail space on the ground floor and a restaurant on the roof with a 360-degree view of downtown.

“It’s going to need a lot of love and care,” said Christopher Rising, president of Rising Realty. “But we are really looking forward to the opportunity to bring it back.”

Lionstone, a Houston-based real estate investment firm, and Industry Partners, a Santa Monica real estate services firm, previously worked with Rising Realty to transform the PacMutual center at 6th and Olive streets into creative offices.

The beaux-arts building, which is closer to Bunker Hill, sold for $200 million last year after Rising Realty acquired it for just $60 million in 2012.

The Title Insurance and Trust Building opened in 1928, a time when Spring Street was known as the Wall Street of the West and the firm was “riding high on the wave of Southern California real estate development,” the Los Angeles Conservancy wrote in a request to make the building a historic cultural monument.

"Up until the mid-’60s, Spring Street was the place to be" for businesses, Rising said.

But by the late 1970s, with Spring Street on the decline, Title Insurance and Trust decamped to Rosemead, following other firms that had already fled the historic core.

With businesses leaving for Bunker Hill and the suburbs, Spring and Main streets fell on hard times. But in recent years, the area has seen a revival and is now home to lofts, restaurants and bars.

Mike Condon Jr., an executive managing director with Cushman & Wakefield, said Rising Realty’s project will help extend that revitalization north to a stretch of Spring Street that has seen less investment.

“It's a big boost to that northern pocket of the historic core,” said Condon, who represented the seller, Capital Foresight.