The Desmond's building, a Miracle Mile landmark, is being purchased by a developer who wants to include the Art Deco property in a high-end condominium project.


Legacy Partners Inc. is in escrow to buy the property at 5500 Wilshire Blvd. from Wilshire Dunsmuir Co. LLC for an undisclosed amount.


Completed in 1932, the 79,000-square-foot building was designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood and has two stories of ground-floor retail and office space with a slender 12-story tower. Its signature tenant was Desmond's Clothing Store, one of the high-end merchants that set up shop in the Miracle Mile area in the 1930s.


Legacy plans to restore and refurbish the ground-floor storefronts and the tower, which will stay commercial. The new residential construction will take place behind the building, on a surface parking lot.


Legacy is planning three 12-story towers containing 125 condos and 41 for-sale live/work lofts, according to Dale Goldsmith, a partner at Armbruster & Goldsmith LLP, a land use firm representing Legacy. Also planned is a six-level parking garage.


Legacy executives have met with Renee Weitzer, chief planning deputy for Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose 4th District includes the site.


"We probably will support the project, but there are still some issues to be worked out," Weitzer wrote in an e-mail. "(Legacy is) going to restore the building to its original glory."


There has been some resistance, however. After meeting with residents last month, Legacy agreed to reduce the number of proposed units in the project to 175 from 190, and it's meeting again with the group to discuss traffic issues.


Legacy Partners didn't return calls. The Foster City-based developer is also set to raze a nearby Late Moderne building at 5570 Wilshire Blvd. to make way for a separate 197-unit condo project that includes nearly 34,000 square feet of ground floor retail.


Wilshire Focused
Jamison Properties Inc. is buying 6380 Wilshire Blvd. from Kennedy Wilson Inc. for about $27 million.


Though it has already gobbled up many of the office buildings along Wilshire, Jamison likes the building's location and tenant roster, according to company president and founder David Lee.


Lee is paying nearly $196 a foot for the 132,281-square-foot tower, several blocks east of the Beverly Hills border. The building, which opened in 1968, also has a six-level parking garage.


Tenants in the 16-story building include Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Consulate General of Israel.


Kennedy Wilson bought the site as part of a three-building portfolio five years ago through its $250 million KWI Property Fund I. The purchase price wasn't disclosed at the time, but the Los Angeles County Assessor's office values the building at $22.2 million.


During its ownership, Kennedy Wilson spent millions of dollars renovating the lobby, common areas and ground floor storefront.


Mary Ricks, president of Kennedy Wilson's commercial group, declined to comment. The commercial group represented the Kennedy Wilson fund in the sale.


Taking on Water
Greenberg Traurig LLP inked a six-year, $12 million deal that nearly doubles the space the law firm has in the Water Garden office complex in Santa Monica.


The new agreement covers 48,868 square feet at 1601 Cloverfield Blvd. With the existing 53,554 square feet in the Water Garden's 2450 Colorado Ave. building, Greenberg Traurig becomes the 1.2 million-square-foot business park's largest tenant.


The firm says it needs the added space to meet its growth plan of adding more than 150 attorneys and other workers in its Los Angeles County office.


The building's owner, Water Garden Realty Holding LLC, is comprised of institutional investors being advised by JP Morgan Real Estate. Water Garden Realty Holding was represented in the deal by Trammell Crow Co.'s Brad Cox and Bob Pearson.


Greenberg Traurig was represented by CB Richard Ellis Inc.'s Clay Hammerstein, Nick Christensen and Richard Bernstein. Since the deal was struck, Bernstein has left CBRE and joined Trammell Crow.


*Staff reporter Andy Fixmer can be reached by phone at (323) 549-5225, ext. 263, or by e-mail at afixmer@labusinessjournal.com.

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