REColumnJan20/bb/ inches/1stjc/mark2nd

Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude once had visions of a complete makeover for the Van Nuys Civic Center, including a civic auditorium, movie theaters, a mix of new offices and retail development even a gateway bell tower.

The proposal went over like a lead balloon in City Hall, and with Braude retiring this year it looks like the plan will stay on the shelf with one notable exception.

The city is now formally seeking proposals from private developers for a 200,000-square-foot Van Nuys Civic Center office building to replace the old Van Nuys "City Hall."

In replacing the earthquake-damaged structure, the city expects to lease a 2-plus-acre site to a private development team for 20 to 30 years and lease back much of the office space, explained Dan Rosenfeld, the city's top real estate executive.

The new building, which will be adjacent to the existing eight-story, 1932-vintage building on Sylvan Street near Van Nuys Boulevard, is to house city employees now stationed at various sites around the San Fernando Valley and even some to be relocated from downtown L.A., Rosenfeld added.

The private development team would oversee design, financing, construction and marketing of the facility, which would include shops and outdoor dining/entertainment areas as well as a much-needed 450-space parking structure.

"We're trying to privatize the development process to the maximum extent possible to get the most benefit from private participation," Rosenfeld said.

An RFP will be made available to interested development teams this Tuesday.

"It will be built without public costs and once the building is paid for it will be owned by the people of Los Angeles free and clear," Braude said.

Downey development

Fu-Lyons Associates, a prominent industrial development firm based in Paramount, just announced plans for a $12 million, multi-building business park in Downey.

The nine-acre project is expected to feature 15 buildings totaling about 200,000 square feet along Firestone Boulevard just west of the San Gabriel Valley (605) Freeway.

The site includes 3.5 acres Fu-Lyons has owned for a decade, along with an adjacent 5.5-acre parcel the firm just acquired from P.W. Pipe Co.

Fu-Lyons razed a PVC pipe manufacturing plant on the just-acquired site and hopes to start building within four months and complete buildings during the fourth quarter, according to principal Chuck Lyons.

The developer plans to offer buildings for sale or lease, he added. Marc Dale Associates of Laguna Beach is designing the project.

AMB buys business park

San Francisco-based AMB Institutional Realty Advisors Inc. has purchased the 2.5 million-square-foot Los Angeles Industrial Center, a prominent business park located along the Artesia (91) Freeway between the Harbor (110) Freeway and the Long Beach (710) Freeway in L.A.'s South Bay district.

Brokerage Cushman & Wakefield Inc. didn't announce the sale until Jan. 10, and didn't specify a price paid for the 26-building, 95 percent-leased development.

But title records indicate the AMB purchase actually closed in late November, and a well-placed source familiar with the transaction confirmed that L.A. Industrial Center fetched more than $90 million.

The deal was part of a disposition program by which the Prentiss Properties-led LAPCO Industrial Parks group split much of its 4.77 million-square-foot Southern California portfolio among key partners and sold the L.A. Industrial Center to AMB. AMB acquired the real estate on behalf of the advisory firm's Current Income Fund and the Milwaukee Employees' Retirement System.

As for the balance of LAPCO's SoCal portfolio which a Prentiss-led investment group purchased in the late-1980s as part of a huge nationwide acquisition another Prentiss affiliate retained the nearby 1.25 million-square-foot Pacific Gateway Center and a group led by the State of Washington's retirement system retained the 1 million-square-foot Orange County Industrial Center in Santa Ana.

Long Beach tower sold

A limited liability company formed by local real estate investment firm Westrust Financial Co. and its financial partner Baupost Realty Partners-IV just purchased the troubled 200,000-square-foot 180 Ocean Blvd. office tower in downtown Long Beach from mortgage lender Allstate Life Insurance Co.

No price was disclosed, but title records indicate the new owner WLB Partners LLC financed the acquisition with a $13 million loan from Wells Fargo Bank.

Sources familiar with the transaction said the buyers paid just over $9 million for the 12-story, 1982-vintage tower and plan to utilize the balance of the loan proceeds to renovate and market the property.

Allstate had funded a $19 million mortgage in mid-1990 to the property's former owner, an investment fund managed by an affiliate of Chicago real estate giant LaSalle Partners. But the fund defaulted when the loan matured in 1995, and Allstate ended up taking the property back and ultimately selling it to the Westrust/Baupost team.

A key problem for the former owners was that H.J. Heinz Co.'s StarKist seafood operation had already left the state when its lease of just under 100,000 square feet expired in September 1995. The building currently is just 9 percent occupied, with Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. as its biggest tenant.

But Charles Smith, vice president at Calabasas Hills-based Westrust, said the new owners are already pursuing about 100,000 square feet of new leases.

He added that Westrust is planning a major renovation of the concrete-frame construction building and expects to have the common area redo finished by mid-April in time for a Long Beach Grand Prix party.

The Seeley Co.'s Kevin Shannon and Matlow-Kennedy Commercial Real Estate Services' Kimball Wasick, Bob Alperin and Robert Garey represented both buyer and seller in the purchase-sale negotiations. The new owners have retained Matlow-Kennedy Commercial to lease the building.

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