Staff Reporter

The massive Barrington Plaza, one of the largest highrise apartment complexes in Los Angeles, has been sold to Brentwood-based Douglas Emmett Realty Advisors for more than $100 million, according to sources familiar with the deal.

The 712-unit complex consists of two 15-story buildings, one 25-story building and 30,000 square feet of adjacent retail space. The height and prime location of the New York-style building distinguish it in the L.A. apartment market. Only the Park La Brea complex in the Miracle Mile area and the highrises along the "Golden Mile" corridor near Westwood Village rival its size.

The sale of the 950,000-square-foot building brings another multi-family property into the portfolio owned by Douglas Emmett, which has focused on acquiring trophy office buildings.

Douglas Emmett bought the 17-story Landmark II Wilshire office tower, immediately east of Barrington Plaza, for more than $125 million last November.

Citing confidentiality agreements, executives at Douglas Emmett and Eastdil Realty, who handled the sale, declined to discuss the purchase. The seller, Robert BPL Inc., could not be reached for comment.

The property was actually built by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1963 and was aimed at lower-income, elderly residents. HUD later sold it to private investor Leonard Friedman, who formed the Robert BPL partnership.

Barrington Plaza is the only East Coast-style highrise west of the San Diego (405) freeway, an apartment market that has seen vacancies fall to 5.7 percent in 1997 from 11.4 percent in 1993, according to data from the brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap. Accordingly, rents have risen as supply tightens: the average monthly rent on the Westside is $716, up from $694 in 1993.

"People would kill for a 700-unit apartment building on the Westside these days," said Sonny Astani, president of the real estate investment brokerage and management firm Lambert Smith Hampton.

Barrington Plaza is almost fully leased. Monthly rent ranges from $1,025 for a one-bedroom near the ground floor to $1,850 for a two-bedroom near the top of the building.

The last time such a massive apartment complex sold was in 1996, when Prime Property Capital Inc. bought the 4,222-unit Park La Brea complex for about $300 million, or $80,000 a unit.

Douglas Emmett made one of the last major Westside apartment purchases, when it paid $25 million to buy a 288-unit building on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica in December.

The Brentwood-based firm is owner and manager of one of L.A.'s largest portfolios of modern office buildings, counting the Studio Plaza in Burbank and the First Federal Square in Santa Monica among its assets. Douglas Emmett started moving into the apartment arena in the '70s, and it now holds about a dozen Westside apartments in its portfolio.

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