Beverly Hills-based developer Regent Properties just added another project to its already busy schedule for the year.

The city of Burbank's redevelopment agency selected Regent to build a retail/office project in downtown at the former police headquarters site.

Regent's proposal for the three-acre site calls for about 180,000 square feet of class-A office space, 25,000 square feet of retail space and an art-house cineplex. Glendale-based architectural firm Feola Carli & Archuleta designed the project, called Burbank Metropolitan Plaza.

Bob Tague, Burbank's community development director, said the city selected Regent's submission from seven proposals because it had the strongest potential to "bring some activity to that side of Olive" Avenue and bolster the city's tax revenue.

Regent and the city still have to purchase some of the site, which in addition to the vacated police headquarters contains a small office building and Masonic temple. Tague said he hopes the project can have its development agreement and building approvals within six months.

Regent is completing construction on its Glendale Marketplace retail project and its 600,000-square-foot West Hills Corporate Village office park. It is also working through the permitting process to build an entertainment/retail project in Westwood Village and has an office/retail project planned for Hollywood.

Betting on downtown

One of the first major office building sales of the year took place last week in downtown L.A., a market that some observers predict will be the next source of investment activity.

A partnership led by Starwood Capital Group was selected as the winning bidder to buy Figueroa Plaza I & II, two office towers with a combined 650,000 square feet of space.

The Connecticut-based investment fund paid more than $77 million or about $120 per square foot to buy the buildings from Lexington Commercial Holdings. The deal is expected to close in March.

Raffi Cohen, the building's original developer, is also a member of the buyer group, according to sources. Officials from Starwood and Lexington, which is headed by airline leasing mogul Louis Gonda, could not be reached for comment.

Starwood, which is headed by financier Barry Sternlicht, has a national portfolio of office, apartment and hotel holdings. It also has a large stake in Starwood Lodging Trust, which recently purchased ITT Corp. after a bitter battle with Hilton Hotels Corp.

Drew Hild of Beitler Commercial Realty Services, who represented Lexington in the deal, said bidding for Figueroa Plaza was "fierce" among real estate investment trusts and private investors.


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