A bit of Soho is coming to Santa Monica, in the form of hip, industrial-looking residential lofts going up for sale.

Lee & Associates and Braemar Urban Ventures have formed a joint venture to develop two loft projects, with a total value of $10 million. One is at Colorado Avenue and 12th Street and the other at Colorado and 17th, said David Wilson, a president at Lee.

"We found two sites about three years ago as the market began to get hip," Wilson said.

Both projects will act as a transition between converted industrial buildings used by entertainment companies and apartments. Each building will range from 15,000-17,000 square feet and have an industrial look, with units of 1,500 square feet.

Construction will begin in about a month. Both sites have dilapidated bungalows that are beyond salvage and will be torn down to make way for the lofts.

"It's something that really hasn't been offered yet," said Avi Brosh, president of Agoura Hills-based Braemar, which also is doing loft projects on Melrose Avenue and in Old Pasadena. "It's really high-end, authentic loft-style units for sale."

Designed by the architectural firm Pugh + Scarpa, the buildings will be of concrete and steel and include bow truss ceilings, metal finishes and glass and metal garage-type doors that can be lifted up, so the indoor space flows to the outside.

The units will have open layouts with high ceilings, patios and decks.

"When you buy the units, it's like a mini-warehouse. You can develop the interior in your style," Wilson said. "It will be very versatile. It could have polished concrete floors or you could put in hardwood floors."

The market being targeted is comprised of professionals running the post-production and Internet companies so prevalent on the Westside.

Infill Infusion

Signaling its commitment to urban infill development, Los Angeles-based CommonWealth Partners has invested in another L.A. company that develops low-income housing.

Christopher Hammond's Capital Vision Equities owns about 3,000 units in the L.A. area and is moving into commercial development.

"What we're getting more into is mixed-use development," said James Anderson, a partner at CommonWealth. "We're past high-rise office development. Now there's not a need for that, and what's more important is infill office, retail, residential."

Anderson said CommonWealth has invested in six housing projects that are under design or construction, in L.A. and Oakland.

"Infill corresponds to what we'd call smart growth," Anderson said. "The real opportunity is in the core because those areas have yet to be bid up by the market."

CommonWealth invested on behalf of itself and a $100 million fund established by CalPERS for urban infill. CalPERS established the partnership with CommonWealth last summer.

The firm, which was founded in 1996 by several senior executives from Maguire Thomas Partners, already had an existing relationship with CalPERS, co-investing in office properties in the Southwest.

Capital Vision Equities also is teaming up with Katell Properties, a major commercial and retail developer, to build a $53 million shopping center in South Central L.A.

Westwood Deal

Arden Realty Inc.'s Westwood Center has signed a sizable deal with an Internet firm.

PeopleSupport.com leased 50,000 square feet on two and a half floors. The five-year deal has a consideration of $11 million.

The company provides live, online customer services for e-commerce companies around the clock. It will be moving and expanding from Westwood Boulevard.

Arden has completed a major renovation of the 300,000-square-foot building, at 1100 Glendon Ave.

"The velocity of deals is better than we expected and we have activity on every single space in the building," said Victor Coleman, chief operating officer.

Matthew Miller and Forrest Blake of Cresa Partners represented the tenant and Eric Hasserjian represented Arden in house.

Tech Allure

In other Arden news, Andrew Sobel has resigned his position as executive vice president and director of property operations.

Sobel, who had been with Arden nine years, will be president of San Francisco-based 555-1212.com Inc., which specializes in web-based telecommunications, information and related services for small and mid-sized companies.

While Arden management remains open to a qualified replacement, it will not actively seek a candidate, according to a company statement. Sobel's duties will be assumed by four senior vice presidents, Robert Peddicord, Randy Noblitt, Jeffrey Berger and Daniel Bothe.

"We have many new business initiatives we are rolling out in the coming weeks," Coleman said. "Currently, Arden has both the depth of management and expertise on board to implement these and our other growth objectives."

Industrial Deal

Oakstone Co. bought an industrial building in El Segundo that used to house a blue-jeans processing plant for $1 million from Popkin Realty.

Oakstone has leased the 17,000-square-foot Lairport Street building to U.S. Media Disc, which makes audio, CD-ROM and video discs, said Izzy Eichenstein, president of Oakstone.

"It's the new economy vs. the old economy," Eichenstein said.

The former tenant, True Blue Textile, went out of business last year amid the continuing move of textile manufacturers to Mexico.

Gray DeFevere of Grubb & Ellis represented U.S. Media.

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

ehayes@labusinessjournal.com

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