Prominent developer who changed the Los Angeles skyline, Robert F. Maguire III dies
Robert F. Maguire III, who changed the Los Angeles skyline as a developer of prominent skyscrapers, including downtown icon US Bank Tower, has died at his Studio City home.
Maguire died of pneumonia on Tuesday, a family representative said. Maguire was 86 years old.
As the dominant figure in Southern California real estate during the commercial construction boom of the 1980s and 1990s, Maguire used his influence to help save the historic Los Angeles Central Library from demolition and was a chef civic who helped expand the Los Angeles County Museum of Art campus and stabilize its finances.
Maguire was born in Portland, Ore. On April 18, 1935, to a high profile family in the public service. His grandfather, Robert F. Maguire, served as a judge in the Nuremberg trials held after WWII to bring accused Nazi war criminals to justice.
His pilot father, Robert F. Maguire Jr., helped evacuate 50,000 Jewish refugees from Yemen to Israel in an airlift between 1948 and 1950 and was reportedly called the Irish Moses by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister. .
“I often accompanied my dad and his 28 other pilots on those 20 hour round trips,” said Maguire. “It was a great adventure for me. Plus, these guys taught me how to fly when I was 13. ”
Maguire graduated from UCLA in 1960 and went to work at the Security Pacific National Bank, where he worked with large corporations and real estate developers before deciding to go into real estate on his own in 1965. His company developed industrial and real estate projects, then ventured into the construction of the office towers for which it would become known by erecting the Northrop Building skyscraper in Century City in 1968.
During the 1970s, his company developed Peter’s Landing, a 40-acre waterfront commercial residential development in Huntington Beach, and rehabilitated a 1920s office building in downtown Los Angeles into residential housing for people. elderly.
After that, “he wanted a high-rise office building in downtown Los Angeles,” said Jim Thomas, who joined Maguire in the early 1980s to form Maguire Thomas Partners, which would become one of the most major office developers nationwide.
In the early 1980s, however, the city’s redevelopment agency was trying to steer developers towards Bunker Hill, Thomas said, but “a number of developers had tried and failed” to launch projects on empty land. over there. “It was a cemetery” for the builders.
Maguire pushed ahead, Thomas said, and was able to find tenants and funding to build what is now Wells Fargo Center, an office complex on Grand Avenue with a pair of skyscrapers clad in granite containing 2.5 million square feet which quickly became one of the best. business addresses in the city.
Maguire and his team were hoping to follow that up with another large office complex across Grand Avenue, but they lost when the city picked another developer to build what is now California Plaza.
“We took this loss – especially Rob – very hard,” said Thomas. “It bothered him for years.
The business would rebound downtown with what has become Maguire’s most prestigious achievement, the creation of what was once the West’s tallest 73-story skyscraper now known as the US Bank Tower. in 1990 and another nearby skyscraper called Gas Company Tower in 1991.
The buildings were part of a plan Maguire helped develop to help save the Central Library, which opened in 1926 and was in danger of demolition as it was obsolete and then badly damaged in an arson attack in 1986 .
Key to safeguarding the library was Maguire Thomas’ purchase of the “air rights” to the library to build higher than its current height if she wanted to. By purchasing these rights from the library, Maguire obtained permission to build the two skyscrapers to the heights he wanted, and the library received over $ 125 million to help fund expansion and repairs.
“Rob has always wanted his projects to be meaningful in themselves, but also important to the community,” said Ned Fox, former president of Maguire Thomas, who remembers Maguire as energetic and demanding.
“When you were working on a project with Rob, he was always sparking and agitating new ideas to improve it.”
Maguire’s business continued to expand into other cities, including Glendale, Santa Monica, Philadelphia, Dallas and Pasadena, where his company built the Plaza Las Fuentes hotel and office complex.
As the volunteer president of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Maguire helped stabilize her finances by making a deal with county officials to make fixed annual payments to the museum instead of negotiating their support every year. He also expanded the LACMA campus by convincing the county and museum council to purchase the adjacent eight-acre site from the May Company at a price he negotiated.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has agreed to lease the former LACMA department store in 20`14 and adapt it for its new museum.
Thomas and Maguire went their separate ways in 1996 when the company was attempting to develop a movie studio for DreamWorks SKG in Playa Vista, a plan DreamWorks abandoned in 1999. Other developers continued to build Playa Vista as a planned community.
Fox referred to Maguire as a “confident risk taker,” which was evident when he took his real estate company Maguire Properties public in 2003 and continued to grow at breakneck speed as its stock price climbed.
“Rob was never content to be less than tall and he wanted to grow,” said Rick Gilchrist, former co-CEO of the company. “He was a big hearted person and could be hard as nails. He would absolutely not give up.
Maguire has apparently grown too fast, betting big in 2007 when he led a $ 3 billion acquisition of 24 office buildings in Orange and Los Angeles counties. Borrowing money for the heavily indebted purchase was quite easy back then, when the financial markets were still teeming with liquidity.
Soon the economy turned around, leaving Maguire and other homeowners struggling with high vacancies and falling rents.
“Most of his risks paid off, but this one went unrewarded,” said Gilchrist, who described Maguire as the kind of “swashbuckler” found in the real estate industry before he became more. staid and corporate over the past decades.
Maguire left his business in May 2008 and his buildings were eventually sold.
Maguire continued to develop real estate, most recently an office building at Water’s Edge in Playa Vista meant to attract creative businesses with different tastes than the blue-chip companies that populated Bunker Hill as Maguire struggled to change with it. time.
“Smart businesses want innovative spaces,” he said in 2014. “Conventional offices are going to have a hard time competing.”
Maguire will be best remembered for helping make Los Angeles a great city, Thomas said.
“For those of us who were there when it happened,” he said, “you can’t look at the downtown LA skyline without remembering Rob.”