LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

1 minute read

May 21, 2024, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

Oceanwide Plaza was rapidly covered with graffiti tags earlier this year. | Matt Gush / Adobe Stock

A massive, effectively abandoned skyscraper project in downtown Los Angeles drew attention when it was targeted by taggers who blanketed the two 40-story towers in graffiti, and more recently when daredevil Ben Schneider walked between the buildings on a slackline 500 feet above the city.

Progress on the Oceanwide Plaza project, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, stalled when its Beijing-based developer went bankrupt. “This $1.2 billion ruin of global capital sat untended all through the pandemic, quietly emblematic of overreaching speculative development,” writes Mimi Zeiger in The Architect’s Newspaper.

Zeiger sees this as yet another example of “the banal aesthetics of market-rate capitalism and the farce that fancy condominiums in the sky could ever offset the tents lining nearby Skid Row,” predicting that the building will be sold and finished before Los Angeles presents itself to the world during the 2028 Summer Olympics. “Bloomberg reported that the brokerage Colliers and advisory firm Hilco Real Estate are looking for buyers, preferably ones prepared to move quickly. Oceanwide Holdings’ lenders and creditors want to recoup nearly half a billion dollars. The developer is also on the hook to repay the city.”

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