After building an empire of fast-food restaurants, Peggy and Andrew Cherng are taking on a different sort of building project: an apartment complex in Pasadena.

The couple, who co-founded Panda Restaurant Group, filed a preliminary plan in October with Pasadena and last month received design guidelines from city planners.

Cherng Family Trust, which is leading the project, has yet to submit a formal planning application. But David Luo, the trust’s vice president of real estate, said the plan is to construct two six-story apartment buildings with 258 units next to the Gateway Metro Center, an 11-story office tower.

The trust bought the office along with the apartment development site in 2015 for $44.5 million, according to public records. The Cherngs already own the Panda Inn restaurant next door – the company’s first location, opened in 1973 – and plan to renovate it.

The October filing with the city estimates the total cost of the apartment project and restaurant renovations at $40.7 million.

The Cherngs, who own a South Pasadena home but claim Las Vegas as their primary residence, said in September that their family office would incorporate investments and developments in commercial real estate. The trust soon made good on that pledge, buying the 300-unit Trio Apartments in Pasadena in November for $154 million.

“CFT views apartment units as a good investment in communities, especially one in which we have strong roots,” Luo said via email. “It is an honor to be able to invest in the Pasadena community.”

Eric Duyshart, Pasadena economic development manager, said the city welcomed the investment from a celebrated local family.

“The Cherng family has been a staple in the San Gabriel Valley for years,” he said. “The fact that their first restaurant is here in Pasadena is a great sense of pride.”

A large part of the fast-food business connects to real estate, said Patrick Donahue, chief executive of retail landlord Donahue Schriber Realty Group who brokered the first Panda Express lease in the early 1980s at the Glendale Galleria.

Towering Deal

West Hollywood’s Sunset Tower Hotel is on the market for roughly $100 million, according to a source familiar with the site. The transaction would become one of the few hotel deals in Southern California to vault over $1 million a unit.

The seller is ER Hollywood, an entity managed by New York investment advisory firm Elevated Returns, which purchased an 80 percent stake in the property for about $60 million in 2015, when the building was valued at $75 million.

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