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More out-of-towners find value in Washington Ave.

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More out-of-towners find value in Washington Ave.

L.A. group spending $20 million on A.D. Brown building

Margaret Jackson

A group of Los Angeles developers plans to spend more than $20 million redeveloping the A.D. Brown building into about 100 condominiums.

Crossland Capital Partners and Heisman Properties have a contract to buy the A.D. Brown building, 1136 Washington Ave., from City Photo Group, which will keep its storefront in the building.

The developers expect to close the deal later this fall and start work on the project in early 2005, said Jeff Crossland, a principal of Crossland Capital.

"We've been impressed with the market and with that whole Washington Avenue historic corridor," Crossland said. "We like that building in particular -- how it sits within that loft district."

The developers have selected the Trivers Associates architecture firm to design the project and Paric Corp. as the general contractor. National City is handling the financing.

Meanwhile, City Photo has a contract to buy a building at 2801 Locust from Rey DeVera, who owns Authorized Elevator. City Photo plans to invest about $5 million redeveloping the four-story building for commercial and residential space, said Jeff Edwards, the company's chief financial officer.

The Los Angeles developers are among a handful of out-of-towners drawn to the loft district in recent years. Chicago developers Orchard Development Group and Joseph Freed and Associates LLC have spent $20 million developing the 99-unit Terra Cotta Lofts, which is sold out. They also are developing the Annex Lofts and adjacent 250-car parking garage.

The developers have lured renowned Chicago restaurateurs Jerry Kleiner and Doug Roth to St. Louis as well. Kleiner and Roth will open Red Moon restaurant at 1500 St. Charles St. in mid-November after hosting a series of charitable events starting Oct. 6 with an event benefiting the Contemporary Art Museum and the Saint Louis Symphony.

Roth and Kleiner are investing $2 million in Red Moon, which will feature classical Asian dishes prepared with a contemporary French flare. The $2 million price tag includes the purchase of the commercial condominium space the restaurant will be located in.

"It's a good food town," Roth said. "A lot of the restaurants that we've had in Chicago have had a tremendous following from people from St. Louis."

Roth's restaurants include Bistro 110 and Blackhawk Lodge in Chicago and Bistro 100 in Charlotte, N.C. Kleiner's Chicago restaurants include Opera, Saiko, Vivo, Marche and Red Light.

On Oct. 4, acclaimed New York chef Larry Forgione will open An American Place restaurant in the Renaissance Grand Hotel, a $265 million development by another out-of-town firm, New Orleans-based HRI Properties. HRI also spent $47 million redeveloping the Merchandise Mart building at 10th and Washington into 213 apartments.

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