A private investor with more than 4,000 apartment units has added another 100 units to his portfolio.

Don Hunt of Hunt Enterprises has bought the Reno Towers Apartments in the Mid-Wilshire area for $10.3 million.

Reno Towers is a 100-unit, four-story complex located at 307 S. Reno St., near downtown Los Angeles. The complex includes two stories of subterranean parking.

Joe Leon and Ray Eldridge, senior vice presidents at CB Richard Ellis, represented the seller, Reno Towers Partners. The buyer represented himself.

The building was completed in 1990 at the tail end of an L.A. apartment construction boom the likes of which the city may not see again for some time.

"That made it special; new properties are much harder to come by," Leon said. "The property is basically in pristine condition. You really don't need to do anything with this one."

But the buyer may decide to do something with it, anyway. Hunt, who was not immediately available for comment last week, is an experienced condominium developer. And Leon said it's possible he may opt to convert the building into condos. The complex has the added benefit that it was built to condominium specifications.

Merging in Santa Monica

Post-production giant Liberty Livewire has just occupied the fifth floor of 520 Broadway in Santa Monica. The 20,159-square-foot deal is worth $7.8 million over 10 years.

Liberty Livewire, a recently formed subsidiary of AT & T;'s Liberty Media Group, does post-production work for feature films, television and interactive television. Liberty Media Group folded Four Media Co. into Liberty Livewire in April, adding Todd AO Corp. in June and Soundelux in July.

The company hasn't had its own headquarters as such and many employees occupied temporary digs in nearby Liberty Livewire production facilities. Another plus that's hard to ignore: the fifth-floor office has an ocean view.

Charles DeSantis of the Westside office of Charles Dunn Co. represented the landlord, SM Broadway Corp. Liberty Livewire was represented by DeSantis and Larry Twomey of Lee & Associates.

Liberty Livewire's brand-name operations include Encore in Hollywood, Company 3 in Santa Monica and Digital Image in Burbank.

Wilmington's Gain, Carson's Loss

Henry Bath Inc., the U.S. division of British warehousing company Henry Bath & Sons Ltd., has signed a five-year deal to move its Carson operations to a cheaper distribution facility in Wilmington. The $1.5 million deal covers 85,085 square feet and takes effect Oct. 1.

The facility is a slight expansion over the 79,000 square feet the company now occupies in Carson, but more than that it represents a way to reduce overhead in an increasingly expensive market for industrial space. The Wilmington location comes at a significantly lower cost, said David Grote of the Klabin Co., who represented Henry Bath in the transaction.

"The new building works very well, but they would have stayed where they were if they could have gotten the cheap price," Grote said.

Brent Daniel and Mark Granger of the Granger Co. represented the property owner, J. Blair Pence II.

The industrial vacancy rate in the South Bay dropped to 3.77 percent in the second quarter, down from 4.4 percent during the same period in 1999, according to Grubb & Ellis Co. The average monthly asking rate is 55 cents per square foot.

Re-signing at its Carson location would have cost Henry Bath Inc. about 48 cents per square foot, compared to roughly 30 cents a square foot in Wilmington, Grote said.

White Tablecloths

It's been some time since the best-known feature of the former Monty's Building in Westwood Monty's restaurant itself on the 21st floor disappeared, replaced by office space at Arden Realty Inc.'s newly dubbed Westwood Center, which today is almost completely leased.

Still to come is the white-tablecloth replacement that will occupy the ground floor of Westwood Center, within shouting distance of two other high-end restaurants, Palomino and Gardens on Glendon.

Northern California-based restaurant operator Constellation Concepts has signed a lease and before the end of the year plans to open The Napa Valley Grille on the ground floor in a 9,700-square-foot space facing Glendon Avenue.

Arden picked the restaurant because of its high-end image and the quality of its operations, said Eric Hasserjian, regional manager of Arden Realty. Constellation Concepts also operates another restaurant locally, Caf & #233; Del Rey, overlooking the marina in Marina del Rey.

The collection of restaurants should play well together, Hasserjian said.

"That little corner has become the high-end corner for fine dining and culture," Hasserjian said.

Westwood Center owner Arden Realty Inc. was represented by Stan McElroy, first vice president at CB Richard Ellis, and in-house by Hasserjian.

In other Westwood Village news, Madison Marquette is expected to soon announce its tenants at the former Macy's department-store building.

West L.A. Deal

The 26,199-square-foot Greencourt Office Building at 10951 W. Pico Blvd. in West. L.A. sold for $3.59 million to a private investor, according to Stephen Stein, regional manager for the L.A. office of Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Brokerage Co. Both buyer and seller were represented by Barry Gordon, senior investment associate for Marcus & Millichap.

Down Under for Olympics

Water polo fans should hear a voice familiar to the L.A. real estate scene coming over the airwaves from Sydney during the Olympics this month. Men's and women's water polo will include commentary by James Kruse, executive vice president and managing director of Grubb & Ellis' West L.A. offices.

If you're wondering what it takes to get a gig like that, well, Kruse has a slight advantage. An All-American in water polo at U.C. Irvine, he was a member of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team.

Kruse entered real estate two years later and has been at Grubb & Ellis for the past three years. This year marks his fifth consecutive Olympics as a commentator.

"We're excited for him," said Robert Osbrink, regional managing director and executive vice president for Grubb & Ellis in the L.A. metro offices.

Staff reporter Milo Peinemann

can be reached at mpeinemann@labusinessjournal.com.

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