Local real estate investor Rao Yalamanchili got a steal last month when he closed on a West Covina office building for $5.8 million after the owner fell into default.

The six-story Class B building at 100 N. Citrus St., anchored by a Chase Bank branch, has struggled to attract and retain tenants, and was only 60 percent leased at the time of sale.

Yalamanchili paid about $73.40 per square foot on the 79,000-square-foot building. The previously lowest recorded sale price of a Class B building in the eastern San Gabriel Valley this year was $120 per square foot for a portfolio sale of three Diamond Bar office properties, according to CoStar Group’s database.

Yalamanchili took over the building after buying the note from Midland Loan Services and then foreclosing on owner 100 North Citrus Associates, which purchased the property for $8.9 million in 2003. The foreclosure was uncontested. Yalamanchili has already begun renovations to the interior and plans to begin leasing out the property soon.

“It comes back to location and that price per square foot was just unbeatable,” said Joseph Chavez, senior vice president of Lee & Associates-Investment Services Group in Ontario, who brokered both sides of the deal. “Being able to buy it (in a good deal), he doesn’t have to get top asking (lease) price.”

Writer’s Block

Syracuse University is establishing a West Coast branch in Sherman Oaks to expand its L.A.-based program for aspiring Hollywood writers.

The upstate New York institution signed a five-year deal last month for 7,500 square feet at 4312 Woodman Ave. in Sherman Oaks. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The university’s Semester in Los Angeles program was co-founded by alum Aaron Sorkin, Oscar-winning writer of “The Social Network” and creator of “The West Wing” TV show.

“Syracuse had a unique and difficult requirement. But we liked the use and the organization and got creative to make a deal that worked,” said Scott Romick of Lee & Associates-LA North/Ventura Inc., who represented the landlord.

The program has outgrown its smaller West L.A. office, which was established in 2005 at 11400 Olympic Blvd.

The university chose the new location because of close proximity to the studios, where many of its instructors are located, and Toluca Lake, where its students are housed. The building also offered ample parking and prominent signage along with the opportunity to design the space for the program’s creative use.

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