Abandoned, graffiti-covered skyscrapers in LA become unexpected tourist attraction

Abandoned, graffiti-covered skyscrapers in LA become unexpected tourist attractionAbandoned, graffiti-covered skyscrapers in LA become unexpected tourist attraction
via FOX 11 Los Angeles
Michelle De Pacina
February 23, 2024
Three skyscrapers adorned all over with spray-painted graffiti on a real estate project in downtown Los Angeles have become an unexpected attraction after the Chinese developer abandoned the project after running out of money.
Cultural phenomenon: The graffiti-covered towers near the Crypto.com Arena by the intersection of 11th and Figueroa streets have become a cultural phenomenon since last month, with residents divided on whether it’s street art or an eyesore. Visitors have mixed opinions, with some finding the graffiti artistic, while others see it as a metaphor for unfinished projects and financial challenges in America’s future.
About the towers: The project’s construction began in 2015 and was estimated to cost roughly $1 billion before the Chinese firm behind it ran out of funds and abandoned it in 2019. Since the project’s abandonment, the unfinished towers have become a magnet for graffiti artists, who have covered the 53-story structures with tags, and base jumpers, who have used the building for parachute jumps. 
The towers’ owners: The city has been struggling to locate the China-based developer associated with the project. Moreover, China Oceanwide Holdings, the real estate developer behind the towers, have not responded to a bombardment of phone calls and emails.   
In January, a Hong Kong Court reportedly ordered the liquidation of Oceanwide Holdings, and recently, unpaid contractors on the project filed a petition in court seeking to compel the sale of the property.
City intervention: This has led the city, specifically law enforcement, to intervene. Police have been managing security, leading to strain on staffing and costs, accumulating 3,000 hours of personnel time, with 18 arrests since Feb. 1 for various offenses like trespassing and felony vandalism. To manage the situation, the police department has also deployed officers on overtime and increased patrols, including from officers on horseback.
Despite efforts by officials to control vandalism of the buildings, new graffiti continues to appear, and more videos on social media show individuals parachuting off the skyscrapers. 
What’s next: Last Friday, the Los Angeles City Council approved a $3.8 million motion for a fence, debris clearance and possible private security. The funds will be used to remove graffiti, secure the site and restore public spaces. An amendment to the motion allocates $1.1 million for a 10-foot-tall steel barrier fencing, scaffolding removal and security services, while an additional $2.7 million might be designated for graffiti removal, enhanced security and fire safety upgrades, pending additional cost estimates. 
Concerns/suggestions of residents: Critics and residents criticized the millions spent on removing the graffiti, suggesting that the funds could be better utilized for essential social programs for numerous communities in Los Angeles in dire need of assistance. Others suggested converting the buildings into low-income rental units to alleviate the city’s housing crisis, especially considering its close proximity to the Skid Row district with approximately 6,000 homeless residents. However, the conversion process is anticipated to be time-consuming, spanning several years.
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