A 199-unit apartment portfolio in Koreatown traded hands for $17 million this month.

Vista Investment Group LLC, a private L.A. real estate investment company, bought the four-building portfolio from 4D Development & Investment, a real estate investment and development company also in Los Angeles that purchased them last year.

The four properties, which include studio and one-bedroom units, are at 3835 W. Eighth St., 715 S. St. Andrews Place, 324 Catalina Ave. and 326 S. Normandie Ave. All were built between 1926 and 1930.

The seller, 4D, purchased the properties out of foreclosure from Wells Fargo Bank last year in order to flip them. All were struggling with high vacancy and were in need of updating. The company renovated the properties and brought occupancy up to about 95 percent. The buyer was eager to scoop up the improved buildings and is planning to increase rents from the current average of about $650 per unit.

Janet Neman, senior managing director of Charles Dunn Co. in Century City, represented both sides of the deal with colleague Bryan Glenn. She said that the demand for apartments in the Koreatown area is growing as people are being priced out of nearby areas.

“Westside is too expensive and downtown is becoming too expensive, and so Mid-Wilshire is an area that people could afford and get a lot more space for their rent,” said Neman. “I see the new market in Mid-Wilshire getting better as time passes.”

Evoq Properties Emerges

Meruelo Maddux Properties Inc., once the largest private downtown L.A. property owner, is preparing to change its name to Evoq Properties, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

The name change is a significant step for the company since it reorganized last year after lengthy bankruptcy proceedings that led to ouster of its co-founders, Chief Executive Richard Meruelo and President John Maddux. The proposed name still must be approved by the company’s board and shareholders.

Mark Tarczynski, executive vice president at Colliers International’s downtown office, said the change is important for the company’s image. “There was a lot of bad baggage associated with the Meruelo Maddux name,” he said.

The company also is undergoing other substantial changes as part of a reorganization plan proposed by minority shareholders Charlestown Capital Advisors LLC and Hartland Asset Management Corp. that was accepted by the bankruptcy court. Investment firms Global Asset Capital LLC and Mount Kellett Capital Management LLP invested $50 million in the deal and now hold controlling interest in the company.

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