Los Angeles developer Michael Rosenfeld has purchased Chapala One, the ill-fated high-end, mixed-use condo development at Chapala and Gutierrez streets that’s spawned so much political and economic conflict that the space has remained vacant since construction was completed four years ago. Rosenfeld appears to have a penchant for troubled, vacant properties, having last year acquired the mixed-use-plus-hotel project on lower State Street known as La Entrada de Santa Barbara a few years after the property’s original developer, Bill Levy, was forced to declare bankruptcy.
Scaffolding now surrounds Chapala One as construction crews attack work defects that would have plagued the building’s tenants had anyone been allowed to occupy the politically controversial but architecturally acclaimed structure. The size and mass of Chapala One sparked a building height battle four years ago as well as a knock-down, drag-out court battle in which contractor Mark Melchiori successfully sued developer Don Hughes for $5.8 million in unpaid bills. Melchiori has since been the focus of numerous lawsuits for failure to pay his bills. This dispute created such a cloud over the building’s title, which combined with the onset of the recession, left Chapala One vacant.