mcneill/feb10/bb/7 inches/mike1st/mark2nd

BRAD BERTON

Staff Reporter

Through an agreement reached in a bankruptcy matter, local real estate developer Roy McNeill has agreed to relinquish one of the San Fernando Valley's premier office towers the 21-story McNeill Plaza in Sherman Oaks to mortgage lender John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co.

The McNeill Group, the Roy McNeill-led partnership that owns the 370,000-square-foot tower at 15260 Ventura Blvd., had sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last May, after Hancock initiated a foreclosure action.

McNeill characterized the arrangement through which title to the property is scheduled to transfer to Hancock this July as "a very amiable parting of the ways; everybody got what they wanted."

McNeill has relocated his offices to West L.A. and said he expects "to be busier than I've ever been." (McNeill also co-developed the Sherman Oaks Galleria regional mall across Ventura Boulevard from McNeill Plaza.)

Hancock recently took control of the building and has named Insignia Commercial Group as its management agent.

McNeill Plaza is among a long string of top-notch local income properties that have faced foreclosures and/or bankruptcies, as prevailing rents slipped in the 1990s to levels that can't support 1980s-level mortgage obligations.

Title records indicate Hancock's mortgage on McNeill Plaza as of 1993 carried a balance of $68 million, or more than $180 per square foot.

That's substantially higher than the prices office buildings along the Ventura Boulevard corridor have typically fetched over the last few years.

However, an affiliate of giant Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. is thought to have paid around $175 per square foot last September when it purchased First Financial Plaza in Encino.

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