After a quick jaunt into the South Bay, Vancouver developer Onni Group has shifted its focus back downtown, putting down a nonrefundable deposit to buy a 220,770-square-foot Class A office tower at 800 Wilshire Blvd. for more than $79.5 million, sources said.
The deal, expected to close in less than two months, marks a return to downtown Los Angeles for Onni. Last month, the company paid roughly $96 million for the Manhattan Towers property in Manhattan Beach.
For 800 Wilshire, Onni agreed to pay more than $360 a square foot. That’s more than $10 a square foot above seller Lincoln Property Co.’s asking price, sources said, and significantly higher than the $285 a square foot average in the downtown market, according to CoStar Group Inc.
The price did not, however, reach the new record per-square-foot price of $430 set recently when downtown L.A. firm Rising Realty Partners sold the PacMutual building to another Canadian firm, Ivanhoe Cambridge, a real estate investment company, and Chicago private equity firm Callahan Capital Properties.
The 800 Wilshire property is two blocks from 600 Wilshire, which Onni acquired for $78 million last year.
“There’s some synergy, having them close, in terms of management, because we manage our properties, and our intention is to capture what we see as a rise in the downtown office market going forward,” said Kevin Carpenter, vice president of acquisitions at Onni.
Once the deal closes, the firm will have acquired seven properties in downtown Los Angeles. It also owns three lots in the market and has submitted proposals for residential and mixed-use developments on them.
Lincoln and its capital partner, New York investment firm Angelo Gordon & Co., bought 800 Wilshire in May 2013 for $48.2 million, or $218 a square foot, from Prudential Insurance Co. of America. It was then 60 percent leased.
Lincoln renovated the building, transforming outdated tenant spaces into modern creative offices as well as bringing in Dianna Wong Architecture + Interior Design to give the lobby a boutique hotel feel and luring in tenant 800 Degrees Pizza to build out a full-scale restaurant on the ground level. The property is now 95 percent leased by tenants that include FedEx Corp., co-working space Cross Campus and law firm Kegel Tobin & Truce.
“We turned drop-ceiling, drywall and carpets into an open-ceiling model that meets the creative standard … and rebranded it as a creative office,” said David Binswanger, Lincoln’s executive vice president.
Once the asset was stabilized, it was time to sell, he said.
Lincoln had moved rents at the property from a low of around $20 a square foot a year to a high of about $33 square foot a year, Binswanger said.
When tenants roll over, Onni can increase rents even more, Carpenter said.
Mark Renard of Cushman & Wakefield Inc. represented the seller; the buyers were represented internally.
Onni has not been shy downtown. It owns parking lots next to the office it owns at 1212 Flower St., on which it has proposed two mixed-use towers, of 40 and 31 stories, and containing 730 condos and 7,873 square feet of retail. It owns a single-room-occupancy building at 830 S. Olive St.; 303-room extended-stay hotel Level DTLA at 888 S. Olive; the 92-unit Union Lofts at 760 S. Hill St.; and a parking lot at 817-825 S. Hill, on which it has proposed a 50-story, 589-unit apartment tower.
“We’re bullish on downtown and think it has a good future,” Carpenter said. “The change will continue and we just want to capture it.”
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