Wayne Ratkovich, a renowned real estate developer based in Los Angeles, passed away at the age of 82 on September 24, 2023. Ratkovich dedicated his career to improving the quality of urban life in his beloved city, leaving a lasting impact on Los Angeles’s landscape. From historic building renovations to bold redevelopments, Ratkovich’s vision and passion transformed numerous landmarks and revitalized neighborhoods.
Ratkovich had an exceptional ability to identify opportunities that others overlooked, often seeing the potential in neglected buildings or areas. His first major project, the renovation of the James Oviatt Building in downtown Los Angeles, put The Ratkovich Company (TRC) on the map. Instead of demolishing the building as others suggested, Ratkovich chose to embrace its historic status and market it as such. This approach proved successful, with tenants like the popular Rex, Il Ristorante, opening in the building.
His success with the Oviatt Building set the precedent for future projects. Ratkovich went on to restore other historic buildings, including the Pellissier Building and the Wiltern Theatre in the Miracle Mile neighborhood. His preservation efforts were not only commendable within Los Angeles but also recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
TRC also spearheaded transformative projects such as The Bloc in downtown Los Angeles, which integrated a former Macy’s Plaza into the surrounding neighborhood. Ratkovich’s vision included creating a direct underground connection to a subway station, allowing The Bloc’s tenants and visitors to easily access public transportation.
In addition to his real estate ventures, Ratkovich was actively involved in civic roles and national leadership. He served as a Life Trustee of the Urban Land Institute, an honor given to just 15 members in the organization’s 80-year history. Ratkovich’s commitment to improving urban life extended beyond his business endeavors.
Ratkovich’s latest project, West Harbor, exemplifies his commitment to enhancing urban spaces. The 42-acre site in San Pedro aims to become a “festival-style” dining and entertainment destination. Ratkovich played a crucial role in convincing the iconic Hollywood restaurant, Yamashiro, to open its first-ever satellite location at West Harbor.
Throughout his career, Ratkovich exemplified a philosophy of capitalism at its best. His company, TRC, focused on profitably producing developments that improve the quality of urban life, without relying on government subsidies. Ratkovich believed that doing well and doing good were not mutually exclusive goals.
Despite stepping down from his role as CEO in 2020, Ratkovich’s impact will continue to be felt through the projects he built and the company he founded. His legacy of kindness, compassion, and vision will inspire future generations of developers, ensuring the continued improvement of urban spaces.
Wayne Ratkovich’s career serves as a testament to the transformative power of civic roles and national leadership in the field of real estate development. His commitment to preserving and revitalizing historic buildings, his innovative approach to urban integration, and his dedication to improving the quality of life in Los Angeles have left an indelible mark on the city. Ratkovich’s legacy will continue to inspire future leaders in the industry to prioritize both profit and positive impact.