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As China puts the brakes on overseas investment, Los Angeles’ development...

Last year, Chinese investors interested in buying or developing property in Southern California peppered World Trade Center Los Angeles officials with questions about how best to break into the market. What's the difference between city governments and county governments, they might ask. Or, are tax incentives for hotel builders better in Los Angeles or Santa Monica? Chinese companies have been among the biggest commercial real estate investors in the Los Angeles area in the last five years, spending more than $5 billion to buy property in the region during that time, according to brokerage Cushman and Wakefield. That includes the sites of billion-dollar condominium, hotel and retail complexes being built downtown and large airport-area hotels that have been upgraded by their Chinese owners. But they are withdrawing from some high-profile ventures as leaders in Beijing constrict the flow of money out of the country. In August, China's State Council laid down new regulations on outbound investments to reduce the risk of runaway debt and to blunt capital flight. "There has been a huge fall-off in EB-5 funding," said Los Angeles attorney Jim Butler, who helps arrange investments from overseas through the program. There also has been a significant shift in the type of Chinese investors buying property in Los Angeles, Cushman and Wakefield broker Marc Renard said. The land formerly occupied by a Robinsons-May department store sits next to the Beverly Hilton and the recently completed Waldorf Astoria hotel.