DOWNTOWN— Philip Orosco cut his teeth creating new buildings in Santa Monica during the early 1990s and now he’s back to repurpose old ones.
Today, he runs Pacshore Partners, a secretive real estate development company with hands on several Santa Monica properties, including the Telephone Building at 1314 Seventh St. and an Art Deco building at 631 Wilshire Blvd.
At a time when many residents are concerned about new development in the city, Orosco is taking a new approach: finding old buildings that he loves and working on them from the inside.
Orosco previously worked on projects with Maguire Partners, which built on Ocean Avenue during the building boom of the late-’80s.
Orosco speaks highly of Rob Maguire, founder of Maguire Partners, saying that he was excellent at meeting the needs of corporate companies.
But he considers Pacshore, which he started three years ago, to be a touch-up company.
“Learning within that system gave me context to this vision toward more boutique,” he said. “It’s a different economic cycle. Employees don’t want Lakers’ tickets anymore. They’d rather have KCRW tickets.”
At the Telephone Building on Seventh Street and Arizona Avenue, Orosco will fill the ground floor with two new Josh Loeb restaurants (think Rustic Canyon and Milo & Olive) and turn the rest of the space into offices. The first tenants will set up in February.
“If you were to peel back why I’m interested in Santa Monica it’s because I live down the street,” he said. “I kind of had a feeling for what I wanted in my neighborhood. And I wanted another Josh Loeb restaurant and I wanted a better coffee shop. It’s sad but true.”
The building previously housed Verizon switchboard operations, something that intrigued Orosco. He’s included secret references to the telephone industry, which he compares to “Hidden Mickeys” at Disneyland.
“The guts of the building have been completely redone, and people don’t realize how much of a development it was because we rebuilt the building inside of the concrete skeleton,” he said.
Carol Lemlein, of the Santa Monica Conservancy, spoke highly or Orosco’s work. The conservancy held its annual preservation awards inside the half-finished Telephone Building this February.
“When he first painted it that charcoal color I know that raised a lot of eyebrows,” she said. “But paint is reversible.”
Lemlein said she grew to like the color, even saying that it makes the roof more distinguishable.
“I think he’s doing exactly what we need, which is to keep these buildings from becoming obsolete and unused,” she said.
He was recently appointed by City Council to a group tasked with restoring the Civic Center.
Orosco acknowledges that there are rumors of a Mendocino Farms and Handsome Coffee Roasters planned for the 1950s Art Deco building at 631 Wilshire, but he would not confirm them.
Orosco is secretive about most of his plans. Pacshore technically has a website, but it requires a password to access it. He owns the ground under the media park at Olympic Boulevard and Centinela Avenue, which he says he has “big plans” for. The floor area ratio for the space was recently increased by City Hall, he said.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, he said he now shuns everything “corporate and chainy.”
He does own the Jack In The Box on Wilshire Boulevard and Chelsea Avenue.
“Rumor is, it won’t be a Jack In The Box much longer,” he said. “But it may be a bit more chainy than I’d like.”
The company is about to purchase 3130 Wilshire Blvd., which he said will be a gateway marketplace from Brentwood to Santa Monica.
“There’s so many cool buildings in Santa Monica to play with,” he said. “There’s not even a theme to them. They’re just kind of a mish mash of cool old things.”