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With Jia, Chinatown Gets a $93 Million Apartment Complex

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – One of the first things a visitor to Chinatown’s new Jia Apartments notices is the color red. It’s everywhere, from the exterior walls to the breezy halls to the fitness center and beyond.

The shade fits. After all, red has long held a special place in Chinese culture — the color symbolizes joy and good fortune.

Those are two things that developer Equity Residential certainly hopes to experience with the $93 million housing complex. The six-story, 280-unit project at 639 N. Broadway opened in the last week of January.

Jia is Equity Residential’s first ground-up development in the Downtown area (though the firm already owns seven Central City apartment complexes, including Pegasus Apartments in the Financial District and Sakura Crossing in Little Tokyo). The project has certainly been a long time coming: The site was first introduced to the developer as a partnership in 2004, and some city approvals were secured in 2007. However, construction only began in early 2011.  

“It took several years to get through the entitlement process, then the recession hit and everything was sort of put on hold,” said Allison Geiman, development director for Equity Residential. “We decided in 2010 that it was a good time to return because the market had improved enough again.”

Move-ins are taking place in five phases, with the last wave of leases expected to be signed by the end of March. Rents start at $1,690 a month for a 570-square-foot studio. One-bedrooms begin at $1,825 for a 725-square-foot unit and two-bedrooms start at $2,525 for a 1,140-square-foot residence, according to the project’s website. 

Area stakeholders believe the impact of the complex could extend beyond providing market-rate housing. George Yu, executive director of the Chinatown Business Improvement District, said Jia stands as a torchbearer of sorts for new development in the relatively project-free Chinatown. 

“It’s got a tremendously positive impact for the long term, and many people are looking forward to welcoming those new residents and new businesses,” he said. 

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