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What's next for the abandoned graffiti-covered high rise buildings in downtown LA?

What's next for the abandoned graffiti covered high rise apartments in downtown LA?
What's next for the abandoned graffiti covered high rise apartments in downtown LA? 02:23

After even more arrests were made at the abandoned high-rise towers in downtown LA on Wednesday, city officials are left wondering what their next step should be towards securing the viral location.

The buildings, once destined to be luxury apartments, became a media sensation in late January after more than two dozen floors were found covered in graffiti. Days after, the towers again found themselves the subject of viral social media content when base jumpers were seen parachuting off the tops onto city streets below.

In weeks since, nearly 30 people have been arrested for visiting the premises and attempting to add their own touch to the tagger's paradise, leading local law enforcement to increase patrols in the area, which has already cost thousands of dollars.

Because of this, LA city leaders took action earlier this month, putting multi-million dollar plans into place to try and stop the continued problems before they become deadly. 

Related: How high-rise graffiti put a spotlight on rampant vandalism in Boyle Heights

They've attempted to go after the bankrupt Chinese developer to foot the bill for the clean up and steps they've taken to secure the location, but have had no luck so far. 

Rick Caruso, the prominent Los Angeles real estate developer, says that he looked into purchasing the property a few years back after construction was abandoned in 2019, but he doesn't see a real future for the towers, which city leaders estimate could cost more than $1 billion to complete. 

"Maybe the building is more valuable demolished for the land value than trying to finish it," Caruso said. "By the time you finish it, the building would've been worth less than what it cost to finish it. So, you would lose money, you're done."

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation says that office vacancy in the county currently sits around 22%, while downtown LA itself is around 28%. 

"In the short run, we are expecting the high rise vacancy rate to stay roughly at this level," said Dr. Dan Wei, an economist with the LAEDC. 

She suggests that the best move would be to repurpose the buildings, possibly converting them into useful residential units. 

Caruso says that the city should team up with federal government and acquire the funding for what's known as Workforce Housing, which would help bolster the downtown economy and serve as a job recruitment tool. 

It would effectively provide housing for those who serve the city, like teachers, firefighters and police officers. 

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