• Brokerage plans to next set up offices in San Marino and Silver Lake.
  • The downtown market is becoming more attractive thanks to the addition of more grocery and restaurant options.
  • Most reconversions will occur in downtown's historic core.

After closing more than $2.2 billion of transactions last year, Los Angeles-based John Aaroe Group has its sights set on expansion.

The brokerage just opened a downtown Los Angeles office that will cater to the submarket’s luxury sector and is likely to open offices in lower San Marino and Silver Lake in the future, according to Gus Ruelas, newly-named vice president and regional manager of the downtown office.

Ruelas has experience opening new offices, as four years ago he was tasked with starting the firm’s Pasadena shop. That office has now grown to 90 agents.

The opening of the downtown office is one in a line of recent expansion moves by John Aaroe. In December, Beverly Hills-based luxury firm Brill Group joined the firm. Pasadena-based Ted Clark and Partners also recently integrated with the firm.

LA’s growing condo submarket

A wave of new condo inventory, in the form of new construction and reconversions, is one reason the firm has set up shop on 7th and Grand.

“It’s (downtown LA) something we can’t ignore anymore,” Ruelas said, forecasting that a number of condos that were converted to apartments during the downturn will now be reconverted into condos.

Demand for condos downtown is rising, evident by the Ritz Carlton Residences selling out, and reconversions should occur as rents continue to rise. Ruelas estimates that in some cases rents downtown have risen by 20 or 25 percent spanning the past two or three years.

Within downtown’s historic core is where most of the conversions will occur. South Park will be the neighborhood where most newly-built condos will be delivered.

Ruelas cites downtown as a market that is going in attractiveness, thanks to the addition of a Whole Foods and the establishment of new restaurants on what seems a weekly basis. In short, the area is becoming more walkable, both for residents and John Aaroe’s agents. For the later, walking to meet clients and showing them condos on foot will be common considering downtown’s parking.

Email Erik Pisor

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