With the vacancy rate for industrial space in the San Gabriel Valley at only 5.5 percent, Trammell Crow Co. is planning to add more inventory to the mix.

Trammell is in escrow to buy the Irwindale Business Center and plans to build a million square feet of speculative industrial buildings in the next 18 months.

The company expects to close escrow on the 56-acre first phase by mid-year and the second phase soon thereafter, said Phil Lombardo, a Trammell Crow senior vice president.

Cal Mat Properties had mined the property at Arrow Highway and Irwindale Avenue for sand and gravel, then backfilled the land over the course of 15 years. Cal Mat also improved the property with streets in anticipation of its eventual development.

Lombardo said the time is right for an industrial project, because space is tight (only 4 percent is vacant in Irwindale) and this will be the only major project in the northern part of the valley.

"This was an opportunity to tie up a piece of land and build a first-class business park," he said.

Even though Trammell has kept the deal relatively quiet, Lombardo said it has generated a lot of interest from potential users. The buildings are expected to fill a void in the market for sites ranging from 50,000 to 200,000 square feet.

"We think, based on what we've seen, there's pent-up demand," Lombardo said.

Distribution center leased

Trammell Crow completed another large industrial transaction recently, this one in the City of Industry.

The company finished construction in January on the Kearn Creek Distribution Center and now has a tenant to lease the entire 308,568-square-foot project.

Universal Warehouses entered into a 10-year lease valued at $15 million. It marked an expansion of the warehousing and logistics company, which also has space in Commerce and Vernon.

John McMillan with Cushman & Wakefield represented the tenant. Lombardo negotiated on behalf of Trammell Crow, with assistance from Stuart Milligan and David Hasbrouck of Cushman & Wakefield.

Hollywood property purchase

Property in Hollywood has been rapidly changing hands, and appreciating, in recent months.

In one of the latest transactions, local developers Fred Leeds and David Oved have bought a 38,000-square-foot property adjacent to the Cinerama Dome for $2 million.

The property had served as the home of entertainment law firm Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown Inc. for two decades. The founding partners decided to sell the building at 6400 Sunset Blvd. after relocating to Rodeo Drive.

Chris Bonbright and Frank Buckley of Ramsey-Shilling Co. represented the sellers and Scott Milano of Lambert Smith Hampton represented the buyer.

The property fronts on Sunset between Cahuenga Boulevard and Ivar Street, in the midst of an active area for retail development that includes the Cinerama Dome and a major project planned by Regent Properties. Bonbright said the buyers plan to demolish the existing structure and erect a new building for Freestyle, a national photo equipment retailer.

New Santa Monica office

The architectural firm of Perkins & Will has expanded its Southern California presence with the opening of a new office in Santa Monica. The firm had opened a Pasadena office in 1996.

Located at 2700 Colorado Ave. in the MTV building, the 22,000-square-foot office has a staff of more than 40 people. The firm also has offices around the country and in Paris.

Its Pasadena office is focused mainly on education projects, largely in the Inland Empire, while the Santa Monica office will focus on health care, laboratory, corporate and commercial work, said Mike Fejes, managing director of Perkins & Will/California.

Among the firm's local projects is the UCLA Replacement Hospital. Perkins & Will is working with I.M. Pei in designing the Westwood hospital, which is part of a $1.3 billion project to replace portions of the university health sciences complex damaged in the Northridge earthquake.

Another acquisition

Kennedy-Wilson Inc. has added to its property management portfolio.

The Beverly Hills-based company has acquired R & B; Commercial Real Estate Services, an L.A.-based firm that leases and manages a portfolio of commercial properties in Arizona, Texas and California.

Last summer, Kennedy-Wilson acquired Heitman Properties, a nationwide management and leasing firm, and created a new property management division.

The R & B; acquisition allows Kennedy-Wilson to expand its portfolio of leased and managed properties by about 6 million square feet (to 57 million square feet) in eight regional locations, including the San Francisco Bay Area and Dallas.

News & Notes

Pharmavite, which manufactures nutritional supplements, has leased the new 740,000-square-foot Vista Business Park in Valencia in the largest non-build-to-suit lease transaction in L.A. County history. Pharmavite plans to relocate its production and product development activities from San Fernando, and its West Coast distribution center from another Valencia location. About 600 employees will be housed at the site.

Jim Linn and Nigel Stout of Grubb & Ellis represented development manager Investment Development Services, and Kennedy Associates Real Estate Counsel Inc. represented the owners. Eric Olofson and Satoru Jo of Cushman Realty Corp. represented Pharmavite

MBK Southern California Ltd. has entered into a development services agreement with L.A. County to design and develop a new courthouse in Lancaster. The 370,000-square-foot structure will include 15 courtrooms (with room for an additional six) as well as offices for prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers and sheriff's deputies. The goal is to break ground in the first quarter of next year, said Andrew Trachman, president of MBK Southern California

Contractors who have been fighting for payment for work done years ago on Shutters by the Beach hotel won another round when a state appeals court affirmed a $6.4 million judgment for construction work

Divco West Properties of San Jose has closed on its $200 million purchase of 1900 and 1901 Avenue of the Stars, two Century City office buildings sold by Shuwa Corp. Sources said Divco plans significant improvements at the buildings. Eastdil Realty, which represented Shuwa, could not be reached for comment.

Elizabeth Hayes can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 229.

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