LOS ANGELES—What started out in 1917 as the Willys-Overland Co.’s new car dealership and assembly plant at 11th and Hope Streets, and later became a Desmond’s department store warehouse, will soon be transformed into a creative office and retail space in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles’ South Park District.

Adding to its growing portfolio of real estate investments across Southern California, Lincoln Property Co. has acquired The Desmond, a 78,500-sq.-ft., currently vacant five-story building surrounded by new residential and retail uses, just two blocks east of the Staples Center and LA Live.

Lincoln will transform the building, including its original car elevator, into creative office space with the potential for new restaurant and retail uses on the ground floor and rooftop. The purchase includes the adjacent surface parking lot which will be used to support the building’s office and retail tenants.

On the ground floor, The Desmond has 16-ft. ceilings, with 11-ft. ceilings on the upper floors. The building also features expansive windows with abundant lighting as well as 15,600-sq.-ft. floor plates. Renovation plans include updating building mechanicals, replacing windows and upgrading interior finishes, while maintaining many of the building’s existing attributes, including high ceilings and rooftop views.

Leasing efforts have already begun and construction is anticipated to last a year, with tenants moving into the property in mid-2014.

“The Desmond is one of the best-located vacant buildings in the area, and we see it as a perfect opportunity to help fill the shortage of creative office space downtown,” David Binswanger, executive vice president at Lincoln Property Co., said in a statement. “Increasingly, office tenants are searching for architecturally interesting buildings with open floor plans that allow for collaboration. The Desmond meets that criteria, and couldn’t be better located. We are very excited to commence construction and open the building early in 2014.”

Marc Renard of Cushman & Wakefield represented Lincoln Property Co. in the transaction.