Hanjin boosts Los Angeles skyline, economy

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Hanjin boosts Los Angeles skyline, economy


Left: Wilshire Grand Center in Los Angeles, which opened on Friday, is the tallest tower west of the Mississippi River. Right: Cho Yang-ho, chairman of the Hanjin Group that built the newest skyscraper in L.A., signs his name on a stone in front of the building on Friday. [HANJIN GROUP]

Wilshire Grand Center, a 73-story skyscraper built in the heart of Los Angeles by Korea’s Hanjin Group, opened to the public on Friday.

The parent company for national airline Korean Air held an opening ceremony for L.A.’s latest skyscraper.

“Wilshire Grand Center is the realization of my personal dream and completion of my promise with L.A.,” said Cho Yang-ho, chairman of Hanjin, at the ceremony. “The center will become a landmark of L.A. … and is an exemplary case of international investment emphasized by President Donald Trump.”

Hanjin Group’s American subsidiary Hanjin International Corporation took over Wilshire Grand Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in L.A., in 1989. In 2009, the company began revamping the building into a skyscraper and has injected some $1 billion in the past eight years. Standing at 1,100 feet, the skyscraper is the tallest tower in the city, as well as west of the Mississippi River.

The company said construction of the hotel will help vitalize the local economy. It reportedly added 10,000 jobs and generated about $80 million in tax revenue while under construction. Upon completion, the operation of the hotel is expected to create 1,700 jobs and add some $16 million a year in tax revenue for the city. The group said in a press release that recognizing the contribution by the center, the city of L.A. has decided to give $60 million in tax incentives by waiving the transient occupancy tax for 25 years.

The group added that it hopes Los Angeles, one of the final bidders for the 2024 Summer Olympics, would benefit from the construction of the hotel. Housing during the Olympics often comes as one of the most important elements in being selected to host the Games.

Local media also recognized the center as a valuable addition to L.A.’s landscape.

“With a sweeping sail of a roofline, it stands out by day among the flat tops of its tall rivals and is illuminated at night with an enveloping expanse of ever-changing colored lights,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Times added that mayor Eric Garcetti called it “a new tent pole for Los Angeles.”

The construction by Hanjin is seen as an attempt by the group to expand its business portfolio, which has been anchored in transportation and logistics, to other service sectors such as hotel and tourism.

“Hanjin Group will not remain satisfied with the opening of Wilshire Grand Center but will further expand the demand for tourism through close links with airlines including Korean Air,” the company said in the release.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]
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