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DTLA: Boom in luxury apartments excites, unsettles

The future Circa mixed-use complex will feature nearly 650 luxury units. The Hoyt Organization

Tractors lumber across a massive excavated plot in downtown Los Angeles. It's the future home of the Circa complex, and part of the area's boom in luxury apartments.

When completed in 2017,  two circular towers will loom over South Park, featuring retail space and nearly 650 apartments. Rents will range from $2,800 for a 700-sq. ft. one-bedroom apartment to $20,0000 a month for the penthouse, said developer Scott Dobbins.

"And that's just predicting today," Dobbins said. "Who knows where we'll be two years from now."

Mayor Garcetti was among the dignitaries at a groundbreaking event Wednesday, praising the developers for bringing housing and jobs to L.A. The half-billion dollar Circa project is the latest in a batch of high-end mixed-use developments to hit downtown, including Metropolis and Oceanwide Plaza.

But some residents are outraged by the incoming condominiums and apartments. About 20 protestors with the Los Angeles Community Action Network tried to drown out the mayor during his speech before Circa supporters.

Protestor General Dogon said new luxury apartments will further gentrify downtown.

"What comes with a condo? You got Starbucks, these $25 German hamburger stores," Dogon said. "People who’ve been living downtown like myself for over 50 years can’t afford to live here no more."

Garcetti has said increasing affordable housing is a top priority. But after his speech, he said developments such as Circa are also critical.
 
“We need to see housing at the higher ends too because we have a shortage at all levels," Garcetti said.
 
Circa developers point out they’ve contributed to affordable housing. As part of a deal with the city, the developer gave $8 million to go toward building a $78 million YWCA residential facility for at-risk youth.