Two former tenants in 625 Hill St., in the heart of the L.A. jewelry district, were among a four-man investment group named Marmar Properties that bought the building for $15 million.

Dean Heck and Robert Gray of Beitler Commercial Realty Service reported that the 50,000-square-foot Jewelry Mart building went for more than they expected, perhaps because of the built-in revenues from a parking garage. The seller was Manulife Financial Corp., a Canadian-based company, which foreclosed on the property in 1996.

Built in 1989, the Jewelry Mart is one of the rare new buildings in the jewelry district. It's fully leased and is home to jewelry retailers, repair shops and wholesalers. It has 275 parking spaces, which is well more than the four spots per-thousand-square-feet required under city code for a building of its size. The garage brings in as much as $800,000 each year, Heck said.

"You're talking about a 50,000-square foot building in downtown selling for ($300) per square foot," Heck said. "That's like what downtown Santa Monica's selling for."

Heck said 15 bidders sought to buy the building, which was much coveted while investors waited for Manulife to sell. He said Manulife went with Marmar for a number of reasons, including their up-front investment and short escrow period.

CB Commercial's Tony Chamberlain said there were higher offers for the building, but Marmar's ability to close the deal by the end of 2000 was the clinching factor. Three of the four members of the Marmar partnership have been in jewelry retail or wholesaling for the past 20 years, Chamberlain said.

Westside Office Market Opening Up?

When ABC leaves its ABC Entertainment Center in Century City to consolidate with parent Walt Disney Co. in Burbank, Trammell Crow Co. will renovate the two low-rise buildings, adding a floor to each and put them back on the market, opening 600,000 square feet of much needed space on the Westside. Coupled with the new JMB tower, Century City will have 1.3 million square feet of new office space.

Trammel Crow officials are tight-lipped about it, but brokers plugged in to the Westside say it's happening, it's merely a function of when the project will get through the city approval process. Among the issues for city consideration are parking and change of use.

"We're out of space in the Westside," said Howard Sadowsky, vice chairman of Julien J. Studley Inc. "Whenever space comes back it's good."

Another Landmark for Mani Brothers

The mirrored birthplace of Warner/ Elektra/Atlantic Corp. and Burt Sugar-man's Giant Group was sold for $36 million to Mani Brothers Real Estate Investment, a private investment company.

The 140,000-square-foot West Hollywood mainstay, know as the 9000 West Sunset Blvd. Building, is visible for miles along the Sunset Boulevard corridor and is recognized by its address that adorns its 16-story black mirrored fa & #231;ade.

Ryan Smith of Cushman & Wakefield said the building was 97-percent leased when Mani Brothers bought it. Cushman represented the sellers, a joint venture of ING Realty Partners and Jupiter Realty, which put a lot of money into replacing the HVAC system and renovating the main lobby and common area on each floor.

Among the predominantly entertainment-related tenants are New Line Productions, Nicholas Cage's Saturn Films, Salma Hayek's production company Ventanarosa, The Doors Music Co., Zomba Recording Corp. and Film Finances Inc. There also will be a restaurant on the ground floor run by Larry Pollack, who runs the nearby Miagi's.

Smith said the building, with it's 12-foot HBO mural, is a Sunset Strip landmark.

"It's always been known in the entertainment industry as, 'Yeah, I'm moving into 9000 West Sunset,'" he said. "It's rumored that Jim Morrison, in one of his freak spells was walking around the parapet on the roof and the police came and arrested him."

Mani Brothers also owns the Figueroa Financial Tower Downtown; Piazza del Sol on Sunset in Beverly Hills and 100 Corporate Pointe in Culver City.

Makings of a Culinary Power Corner

Tuesday's opening of Napa Valley Grille in Westwood Center completes Arden Realty Inc.'s renovation of the 22-story building and continues Westwood's efforts to return to premier status in the city by creating something of a high-end dining hotspot.

Arden spent $35 million to convert the building "from a dog with fleas" and replaced all the tenants, including L.A. landmark restaurant Monty's Steakhouse, according to Eric Hasserjian, senior leasing agent at Arden.

Located at the triangle formed by Glendon and Tiverton avenues and Lindbrook Drive, Westwood Center has a mix of tenants, with the new lease putting Napa Valley Grille in the same neighborhood as Palomino, The Gardens on Glendon, Tengu Sushi Lounge, Eurochow and California Pizza Kitchen.

"We're looking at it as becoming the culinary capital of Los Angeles," said Hazem Ouf, president and CEO of Constellation Concepts Inc., the Corte Madera-based owner of Napa Valley Grille.

Ouf, who grew up in Los Angeles and, through former company Spectrum Foods Inc., ran L.A.-area restaurants Prego, Harry's Bar and American Grill and Chianti Cuccina. He said Constellation Concepts put $3 million into the 300-seat restaurant that will host wine tastings and parties in its banquet room in an effort to lure a well-heeled demographic.

The restaurant also will feature a small retail shop offering infused olive oil and vinegar from Napa Valley.

"Our goal is to have a virtual vacation to Napa Valley," Ouf said.

Napa Valley Grilles already are open in Yountville, Calif., Minneapolis, Cleveland, San Diego, Paramus, N.J. and Providence, R.I.

Staff reporter Christopher Keough can be reached at ckeough@labusinessjournal.com.

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