April 17, 2024

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Invisible: How an unfinished billion-dollar project in Los Angeles became 'the hottest elephant in the room' |  outside

Invisible: How an unfinished billion-dollar project in Los Angeles became 'the hottest elephant in the room' | outside

Anyone looking at the Los Angeles skyline these days can't miss it. In a stunning move, the city's graffiti community turned all attention to a painful disgrace: an unfinished $1 billion Chinese project in… downtown Los Angeles has been struggling for five years. Meanwhile, the strange new attraction is not only the tag players' playground, but also the base jumpers' playground. The mayor of Los Angeles fears that tragedies will occur.


Anne de Nel


Last updated:
02-16-24, 15:31


source:
The Washington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, NBC

look. BASE jumping from an unfinished residential tower in Los Angeles:

See the luxury Oceanwide Plaza project, next to the famous Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles. The project, whose construction began in 2015, consists of three skyscrapers, the tallest of which was also the tallest in the city. It will include 500 luxury apartments, a shop and a five-star hotel.

But it happened differently. Since 2019, the almost finished building has been gathering dust. Chinese developer Oceanwide spent more than $1.1 billion (€1.02 billion) on this expensive masterpiece, but then ran out of money. Thus the unfinished buildings remained in poor condition for about five years. The project became a painful thorn in the side in Los Angeles. Now it can no longer be ignored.

© Getty Images via AFP

“Explosion of signs”

It all actually started in December, when three local graffiti artists crawled up to the tallest tower in Oceanwide Plaza and painted some room-sized windows with their stickers. It was a bold act that caught the attention of the entire Los Angeles graffiti community. “It has been a topic of conversation within the community,” says well-known brand owner Endem. “But no one had the balls to do it.”

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Until early February, when Endem and his crew sneaked past the building's lone security guard and broken fence, climbed 28 flights of stairs and placed their own signature on the largest tower. That's when the ball really started rolling, according to The Hollywood Reporter. And how. Other tag owners tagged each other online and came to add their own tags. Tags, tags and more tags. Within 24 hours, one tower was completely covered. By February 6, all three towers were covered in graffiti.

Getty Images via AFP
© Getty Images via AFP

Latest landmarks

Los Angeles' graffiti community is rubbing its hands. They are ecstatic about what they have achieved through the graffiti “explosion”: the tallest tower is now visible for miles, its color exploding in every direction. Pictures of their “masterpiece” spread around the world, especially after residential towers appeared in the background during the Grammy Awards ceremony. Tourists love to come and have a look. The newest landmark was born in Los Angeles, whether the locals like it or not.

Discussions about the towers and the graffiti campaign became heated. The artists and their fans see the real problem as the unfinished apartment buildings themselves, not the eye-catching additions to the facade. Some praise the spontaneous “art” that literally highlights the city's housing crisis. Others complain of pure vandalism and out-of-place street crime, with a high degree of impunity: How can this happen and be accepted?

Getty Images via AFP
© Getty Images via AFP

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But one thing is for sure: No one can ignore the most colorful elephant in the room anymore.

Fear of tragedies

While there is a lot of talk about the towers, the buildings are becoming a magnet for more graffiti artists and now also for even the craziest adventurers. Shocking photos of BASE jumpers jumping from skyscrapers with parachutes appear online. Mayor Karen Bass fears tragedies will happen and has assigned police officers to the tower day and night. “What if someone falls or gets pushed? There are people jumping off this building with a parachute. I guarantee you a tragedy is going to happen here,” Bass said. Several people have already been arrested.

Getty Images via AFP
© Getty Images via AFP

Who pays?

The city council decided last week that all graffiti must be cleaned up. The bill for monitoring and cleanup will be submitted to developer OceanWide and could reach $US4 million ($3.72 million), according to local media. But there's a small problem: Oceanwide went bankrupt during the massive collapse in China's real estate market, which also led to the collapse of real estate giant Evergrande. If Oceanwide doesn't pay, Los Angeles taxpayers will foot the bill.

Getty Images via AFP
© Getty Images via AFP

Shame

The colorful towers attract attention from Instagram and the like, but they symbolize urban decay and the danger of too much dependence on foreign money, the Washington Post writes. It's not clear what should happen to the half-completed housing project in the long term. It is hoped that a group of investors will eventually take over.

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For now, most agree it's a shame that such a prestigious and expensive project languishes in a city with a major housing shortage, skyrocketing housing costs, and so many homeless people. Joining the list of global cities with uninhabited “ghost towers” ​​is nothing to be proud of.

Getty Images via AFP
© Getty Images via AFP

Next week, the city council will discuss a proposal to use $3 million (2.79 million euros) to install a new fence around the building and hire private guards, among other things, so that… Los Angeles Police – already severely understaffed – can focus on other things again.

Getty Images via AFP
© Getty Images via AFP

Getty Images via AFP
© Getty Images via AFP

Getty Images via AFP
© Getty Images via AFP

France Press agency
© Agence France-Presse