Crown Group Australia expands to U.S.

LOS ANGELES—The City of Angels will get a new addition to its skyline as Crown Group Australia, a property developer of high-rise condominiums and its own Skye Suites hotel brand, expands its footprint into the U.S. with a 43-floor, mixed-use tower featuring a 160-key, lifestyle-branded hotel.

Located at the convergence of Downtown’s financial, fashion and South Park districts here, the building, which will also offer 319 condos, is a joint venture between Crown Group, Singapore-based Magnus Property Pte Ltd and Indonesia developer ASRI.

“We see Downtown as a burgeoning part of L.A., particularly with the 2028 Olympics set to create the boom of a lifetime,” said Iwan Sunito, Crown Group co-founder/CEO. “We are exploring L.A. because we saw synergies with the Sydney market; both have a sunny climate and a relaxed, outdoor lifestyle, yet are set within a city landscape that is close to the beach and nature. We saw an opportunity in the condominium market that we could combine with our hotel offering.”

He added, “Our hotels in Australia are created as part of mixed-use residential and retail developments, and we saw that this model would work well in Downtown L.A., where there is a gap in the market for hotels that cater to regular travelers who want more space and luxury. We are providing this self-contained condo-hotel model, which offers plenty of living and working spaces to guests, in an up-and-coming, vibrant part of the city.”

The project, at 1111 Hill St., is expected to be completed in 2024. Sunito noted that a decision on the brand of the hotel has yet to be made.

“We are exploring three options for the hotel: launching the Skye Suites brand here; creating a collaboration with our brand and another; or engaging a third-party independent operator,” he said.

If it becomes a Skye Suites hotel, it will be the fourth property in the portfolio and first outside of Australia (two in Sydney and one in Parramatta). The second Sydney hotel opened as Australia was on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While other hotels were closing their doors, we brought forward the opening of our third hotel, in Sydney,” said Sunito. “I know that in business, you are in it for the long haul, and I’ve learned that with every challenge there is always a way around. The other way is to retreat and do nothing. I launched my business in 1997-’98 during the Asian financial crisis, and I learned to see opportunity in every crisis.”

He added, “There is no question the market has been slower because of COVID-19 but in Australia, the restrictions are starting to be lifted across the housing, hotel and restaurant industries, which means the wheels of the economy will start spinning at high speed again. We are preparing for international travel to open up again, and our hotels are ideally placed for the new type of travel because they are self-contained and provide for long stays or short stays.”

The CEO noted that business and leisure travelers “are attracted to Skye Suites for their iconic architecture, sophisticated interiors and spacious self-contained hotel apartments in great city locations. Each has resort-style facilities providing the ultimate urban retreat on the doorstep of a restaurant and shopping precinct.”

Designing the building in L.A. is Sydney-based Koichi Takada Architects, with whom Crown Group has collaborated on a series of residential projects in Australia. The structure will feature a facade that references California’s redwood trees. A street canopy will incorporate a “breathing green wall,” designed to improve the city’s air quality and introduce a unique landscaping feature to the Downtown streetscape, according to Koichi Takada, principal.

“The concept behind the design is to create one of the healthiest places to live in downtown Los Angeles. Architecturally speaking, if you combine the artificial and natural and find that delicate balance, you can establish a new relationship between nature and the built environment,” he said. “With this concept in mind, I was inspired by California’s iconic redwoods. I am fascinated by the symbol of sustainability they represent, as this project will be a new symbol of healthy living in L.A. We want to empower future generations through nature-inspired designs where cities and nature can coexist, making for a much healthier way of life.”

Iwan Sunito
Crown Group Australia

He continued, “I was also inspired by L.A.’s street culture, beaches and Hollywood history. I love the energy of L.A.; it is one the only cities that isn’t afraid to express itself in a multitude of ways, making it a mecca for creativity. I wanted to contribute to a new face of L.A., but in a new way that looks toward the future. Incorporating the cultural and natural heritages of a city is key in creating something that belongs to the place and that is connected to the cultural, visual, local DNA of the city, community and people.”

Takada noted the canopy “contributes to the walkability of the neighborhood by engaging with the street level and bringing the high rise down to the human level. With its alluring, organic shape, it does double duty as a public art piece while also providing shade and shelter for guests, residents and pedestrians.”

A decision on who will design the interiors of both the hotel and condominiums has yet to be made.

To aid in the expansion, Crown Group has launched an L.A. division led by Patrick Caruso, head of U.S. development. Samuel Sunito, the CEO’s son, serves as development associate.

“We are thrilled to be expanding our U.S. presence with Patrick and Samuel, who together bring a high level of expertise and diverse perspective to Crown Group,” said the elder Sunito. “With more than 15 years of experience in development, Patrick could not be better suited to lead Crown Group’s expansion to the U.S. As head of U.S. development, Patrick is responsible for the origination and delivery of development projects to grow the organization’s pipeline. Samuel has proven his dedication and capability as a previous sales executive at Crown Group. Now as a development associate, Samuel provides key support for the group’s forthcoming mixed-use condo and hotel planned for Downtown L.A.”

As for further growth in this country, Sunito said Crown Group will use the L.A. development to test the market and “then consider other opportunities in the U.S.,” adding, “Our focus is on expanding from Australia to the U.S. and Indonesia so that we span three continents. Yes, we will look at expanding the brand as we build our team and our knowledge of the local market, but for now we are focusing on testing the market there.” HB

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