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Tallest LA tower to get observation deck

LOS ANGELES -- The owner of the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles, the tallest building west of Chicago, will add an outdoor observation deck and restaurant to three top floors as part of a $50 million makeover.

Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd., the Singapore-based investor headed by billionaire Stephen Riady, paid $367.5 million for the 1,018-foot tower in March 2013.

Renovations at the 72-story building, purchased from MPG Office Trust Inc. (NYSE: MPG), are likely to be completed in the third quarter of 2015, said Richard Stockton, chief executive officer for the Americas at Overseas Union Enterprise.

“It’s a bona fide tourist attraction that would be adding to downtown,” he said in a telephone interview. “We’d expect a minimum 500,000 visitors a year.”

The tower, completed in 1989, was depicted as being blown up in the 1996 movie “Independence Day.”

Renovation plans call for observation areas on the 69th and 70th floors, with an outdoor deck on the lower story, and a restaurant on the 71st floor.

The 72nd floor will continue to be leased by its current tenant, a computer-server company that Stockton wouldn’t identify.

The lobby will be remodeled and entrances reconfigured to keep office tenants and tourists separated.

The U.S. Bank Tower will soon be surpassed as Los Angeles’s tallest building.

The 73-floor Wilshire Grand Center, a $1 billion hotel-and-office complex developed by Korean Air Lines Co., is scheduled to open in 2017 with a “sky lobby” offering similar views.

Willis Tower

The U.S. Bank Tower observation deck will be the highest in the western U.S. The world’s tallest observation deck, at 1,600 feet, is the Canton Tower in Guangzhou.

The tallest U.S. observation deck, at 1,354 feet, is at the Willis Tower in Chicago, 103 floors up.

The Empire State Building’s top deck, on the 102nd floor, is 1,224 feet above the ground.

The U.S. Bank Tower is about 56 percent leased in a downtown district where the vacancy rate hovers around 20 percent, Stockton said.

The tower landlord will push harder for new tenants when the renovations are finished, Stockton said.

Net rents in top-tier buildings in downtown Los Angeles are about $22 to $24 per square foot, and would need to rise about $10 a foot to justify construction of new office towers, Stockton said.

The seller of the U.S. Bank Tower, MPG -- the company once known as Maguire Properties Inc. -- was purchased last October by Brookfield Office Properties Inc. (NYSE: BPO) in a deal valued at about $2.2 billion.

The tower was developed by an MPG predecessor company, Maguire Thomas Partners.

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