Los Angeles: entertainment capital of the world, second-most populous city in the U.S. after NYC, and Southern California’s cultural and commercial center. Surprisingly, the one California entry to make it into our list of top 100 property taxes in the U.S. was not in Los Angeles. So we decided to dig a little deeper into PropertyShark records and county public record data and find the 10 top taxpaying L.A. properties (see table below for full list).
Commercial properties on such a list are a given. Aside from the five office high-rises that took #1, #2, #4, #5 and #6, Los Angeles also has two retail centers that are big enough and pay enough in taxes to make the top 10–Westfield Century City mall at #3 and the Beverly Center at #7. Perhaps the more “exotic” entries are the entertainment and multi-family buildings that landed #9 and #10, respectively. They are pretty special in their own right–the entertainment property is none other than the iconic Dodger Stadium and the multi-family property happens to be The Lorenzo, USC’s lavish off-campus housing development.
“Are there really no properties in all of Los Angeles that command even higher taxes?” you may ask. Well of course there are! The Getty Center‘s assessed value is just over $1.5 billion and would command $18.3 million in property tax, were it not for exemptions. The same applies to Cedars-Sinai: the medical facilities off Beverly Boulevard are assessed at just over $1 billion and would land in second place with the estimated $13 million in property taxes that the hospital is exempt from paying.
Mapping out LA’s top tax-paying buildings
Given the sheer size of Los Angeles, one may be inclined to expect that top-valued developments would have popped up everywhere. As it turns out, L.A.’s top 10 entries are not as spread out as Dallas’ top taxpaying buildings. When putting together the map presented below, it became apparent that most of the buildings that commanded the highest property taxes in 2016 are huddled Downtown along the One-Ten. Aside from the two retail properties that made the list, Westfield Century City Mall and Beverly Center, which are the highest-valued commercial properties in West Los Angeles, the other eight fall right in line.
Read on to find out what else is special about some of L.A.’s top taxpaying buildings.
#1. City National Plaza – $9,537,168 in property taxes in 2016
The City National Tower and the Paul Hastings Tower are textbook examples of the Corporate International architectural style that emerged in the 1970s. The 52-story twin towers were completed in 1971, on a site formerly occupied by the Richfield Tower.
As the Richfield Oil Co. had outgrown its headquarters, the 1929 office building was demolished in 1969 and replaced by what was then called the ARCO Plaza skyscraper complex. The twin towers, along with the adjacent 4-story “Jewel Box” pavilion, take up an entire Downtown Los Angeles city block. Its prime location makes it worth the investment–the complex got more than $300 million dollars’ worth of interior and exterior upgrades between 2003 and 2011, which included converting part of the underground mall into parking space. The property was renamed City National Plaza in 2005.
Trivia tidbit Upon completion, these were L.A.’s tallest buildings for a year, when they were surpassed by the AON Center, and the tallest twin towers in the world, until the NYC World Trade Center towers were built.
#2. Bank of America Plaza – $7,560,255 in property taxes in 2016
The 55-story Bank of America Plaza stands apart on its 4-acre site at the western edge of the hill, given room to breathe by its unique garden with over 200 trees, sunken grotto and three waterfalls.
After having purchased the tower in the early 2000s, Brookfield Properties and Blackstone set out to turn it into an environmentally friendly commercial property. Building upgrades made over the course of two years focused on improving long-term performance and the investment paid off–the Plaza received Energy Star certification in 2008.
Trivia tidbit The four sides of the Bank of America Plaza face true North, South, East and West.
#3. Westfield Century City Mall – $7,342,658 in property taxes in 2016
Westfield Century City–third highest taxpaying property in Los Angeles. Originally opened as Century Square Shopping Center in 1964, the mall has undergone several costly renovations and expansions during its 53 years. The biggest one so far, however, will wrap up later this year. Australian developer Westfield Group set out on a $1 billion mall revamp in 2015 that is set to transform the Santa Monica Boulevard property from shopping mall to lifestyle center.
As online marketplaces like Amazon continue to chip away at conventional retail, Westfield seems to spare no expense in the race to keep pace with the retail revolution. The billion-dollar makeover will expand the luxury property with new retail and a strong emphasis on restaurants. Westfield Century City Mall will grow to roughly 1.2 million square feet and include:
- The Terrace outdoor event area
- eight acres of open plazas, gardens and tree-lined pathways
- double the parking spaces, taking it up to 4,700
- 70 new shops and restaurants, including a flagship Nordstrom and the West Coast’s first Eataly
#4. Wells Fargo Center North Tower – $7,095,496 in property taxes in 2016
The taller twin of the Wells Fargo Center skyscraper complex landed at number four on our list and is the second Brookfield-owned property to do so. The 45-story, 1.1 million-square-foot Wells Fargo Center South Tower missed a spot in the top 10 by a few hundred thousand, having “only” commanded $5.2 million in property taxes last year.
Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the complex was based on a somewhat traditional layout of two towers flanking a smaller building, much like the decade-older City National buildings. However, the architects put a twist on the design by creating parallelogram-shaped bases with sharp angles rising into the Central L.A. skyline. The lower structure on the site houses dining and retail and all three buildings are connected by a tree- and sculpture-clad plaza.
Brookfield acquired the Wells Fargo towers when it took over MPG in a deal that, according to the L.A. Times, made Brookfield the predominant landlord on the Downtown L.A. commercial real estate market.
#5. Gas Company Tower – $6,338,980 in property taxes in 2016
The Gas Company Tower was also part of the deal that crowned Brookfield “Landlord King of Downtown”.
Built in 1991, the 52-story office tower is one of the younger properties in our top 10. The tower is not only named after its primary tenant, but the elliptical top of blue glass symbolizes the trademark blue gas flame of the Southern California Gas Company.
The 1.3 million-square-foot Class A Bunker Hill office property has garnered a few awards since it passed into the hands of Brookfield: LEED Gold-certified, Energy Star rated and recipient of two BOMA awards. Furthermore, the building is one of seven L.A. venues employed by the Arts Brookfield program.
Art is an integral part of the Gas Co. Tower design, as the lobby strikingly demonstrates–the central focus of the main lobby is a water garden with landscaping and reflecting pools, which enter into the lobby underneath glass panels in the floor. Painted on the adjacent building is a 300-foot Frank Stella mural that was commissioned for the SoCal Gas headquarters building. The mural, titled Dusk, can be seen from Pershing Square and downtown streets and also through the lobby and office windows of the building.
Trivia tidbit The Gas Company Tower lobby is featured in the opening scene of the 1994 action movie Speed.
- Data sources: PropertyShark, proprietary research (download raw data)
- Search was based on individual parcels; for multi-parcel properties the tax values listed are representative of the main parcel;
- 2016 tax values were verified with Los Angeles County Property Tax Portal and Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office;