Corruption Investigations Sullies L.A.'s Downtown Development Success Story
"The rapid transformation of downtown Los Angeles’ skyline is being fueled in good measure by huge investments from Chinese companies eager to burnish their global brands and capitalize on L.A.’s real estate boom," report Emily Alpert Reyes and David Zahniser. "Now some of those projects have become a focus of federal agents seeking evidence of possible bribery, extortion, money laundering and other crimes as part of a corruption investigation at City Hall."
The details of a federal investigation into corruption connected to foreign investment in downtown development projects were revealed by a search warrant made public late last week.
"Among those named are executives of Chinese firms bankrolling two ambitious downtown projects that would result in three new towers on Figueroa Street. Investigators are also seeking records about L.A. development projects involving other foreign investors, including firms with large-scale hotel and residential projects in downtown," according to Reyes and Zahniser.
On the other side of the equation, "federal investigators are seeking records related not only to [Councilmember Jose] Huizar but also other City Hall officials, including Councilman Curren Price and current or former aides to Huizar, Council President Herb Wesson and Mayor Eric Garcetti.
A follow up article by Reyes and Garcetti digs into the possibility that the investigation will have political consequences for the offices named in the warrant.
For perspective on the ongoing transformation of Downtown Los Angeles, here's a few relevant selections from the Planetizen archives.
- The Contrasting Forces Behind Downtown L.A.'s Revitalization (May 2012)
- L.A.'s Downtown Building Boom Comes Up Short (July 2013)
- Downtown L.A.'s Residential Revolution (December 2013)
- Downtown Los Angeles Punching Above its Weight in Residential Development (September 2014)
- Downtown L.A.'s Chinese Real Estate Cycle (September 2016)
Map: The Towers Changing the L.A. Skyline (March 2017)