A prominent entertainment law firm is moving to Century City, signaling the area's continued emergence as prime real estate for talent representation companies.

Barnes Morris Klein Mark Yorn Barnes & Levine, a Los Angeles-based law firm with a large entertainment practice, has signed a 10-year lease at the new 2000 Avenue of the Stars Building, which opens later this year. The Santa Monica firm will occupy 28,000 square feet of the 12-story building early next year. The lease with property owner Entertainment Center LLC is valued at $15 million.

"With the new recent influx of large credible entertainment firms, Century City is no longer solely perceived as a location for law firms and financial services but instead it is competing toe-to-toe with Santa Monica and other creative locations for creative tenants," said Blake Mirkin, a senior vice president at CB Richard Ellis Group Inc.'s Century City office, who represented Barnes Morris in the transaction.

Creative Artists Agency Inc. and International Creative Management Inc. have also recently staked their ground in Century City. CAA will occupy space in the 2000 Avenue of the Stars Building by year's end, and in May, ICM signed a lease to occupy space in the MGM Plaza.

Kevin Yorn, a co-managing partner at Barnes Morris, said that with the move, the firm plans to enhance its corporate entertainment, film, music, and television practices.

"We think that there is a big opportunity in Century City," Yorn said. "We have done very well being independent of it all in Santa Monica but at the ten-year mark for the firm it's time to move into the middle of everything."

The firm currently occupies approximately 13,000 square feet at 1424 W. 2nd Street in Santa Monica, and could completely fill its new, larger space in the next 36 months, he said.

"We are thrilled to be moving into what we see as a really dynamic environment, which helps us to enhance our business and the way we service our clients," Yorn said.

Nick Christensen, a senior vice president in CB Richard Ellis' Century City office, also represented the law firm.

Condo Conversion
Decron Properties Corp. and Equity Residential have completed the year's largest sale of an apartment complex in Los Angeles that will be converted into condomiums.

The sale of the Playa Blanca Apartments in Playa del Rey closed on Aug. 31 with Chicago-based Equity paying $27.55 million for the 2-acre property owned by Decron, based in Los Angeles.

The all two-bedroom 80-unit property, located at 8300 Manitoba St., is four blocks from the beach an attribute Equity valued greatly, said David Nagel, president of Decron.

"The building is within half a mile of the beach and Playa del Rey in general is a very attractive bedroom community," Nagel said. "[Equity's] focus is looking strictly at areas near the beach."

Ron Harris of Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Brokerage Co., who represented both the buyer and the seller in the transaction, said the deal is Equity's first condominium conversion purchase in the Los Angeles market.

The property had a condominium tract map that was recorded in 1984 when the project was built, but prior to this time the units have been rented as apartments. The units sold for $344,375 per unit, or $347 per sellable square foot, Harris said.

"There was significant offer activity from many condo converters because of the property's proximity to the beach, and because of the strong condo market that exists for prime West side property," Harris said.

Nagel said Equity plans to move quickly with the conversion, and expects to have product for sale in 2007. The complex is currently occupied by rental tenants.

Naked Juice Deal
Azusa-based Naked Juice Co. has expanded its operations in the San Gabriel Valley with a lease of 64,155 square feet of temperature-controlled distribution space in Irwindale at the Irwindale Distribution Center.

Naked Juice will occupy an additional 22,882 square feet of space at the center in January, when another tenant moves out of the building. Terms of the 54 month lease were not disclosed.

"This is basically one of very few buildings in the area this specialized where it is already built-in and they didn't have to do anything to it," said Ryan Campbell of Grubb & Ellis Co.'s San Gabriel Valley office, who represented Naked Juice along with Rick Sheckter. "They moved in, turned on the refrigeration compressors, and waited for it to cool down."

The 5303 Rivergrade Road distribution center had served as a distribution center for Ralphs Grocery Co. Previously, Naked Juice's other distribution operations were located at facilities in Glendora and Azusa. With distribution being shifted to Irwindale, those facilities will now handle production for the company.

Art Rasmussen, David Norrie, and Scott Delphey of CB Richard Ellis represented the building owner, TA Associates Realty and Wohl Property Group.

This and That
Los Angeles-based commercial real estate services company CB Richard Ellis has been tapped by MetLife Inc. to market the company's Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village complex in New York City. The 80-acre apartment complex on Manhattan's East Side could have an asking price in the $5 billion range. The complex spans almost 27 square blocks and includes over 11,000 units. It is estimated to be the most valuable single piece of property on sale in the United States Bain & Company Inc., a Boston-based global business consulting firm, has agreed to an extension and expansion of its lease at 1901 Avenue of the Stars, a 20-story office building in Century City. The company is extending its lease on space in the building's 20th floor, and expanding into space on the 19th floor, for a total of 36,000 square feet. The 10-year lease transaction is valued at $13 million. Mirkin of CB Richard Ellis represented Bain & Company and building owner Douglas Emmett Inc. represented itself Rancho Santa Fe-based First Community Bancorp has chosen Kennedy Wilson Properties Ltd., a division of Beverly Hills-based real estate services firm Kennedy Wilson Inc., to provide facilities for the company's banking offices. As part of a three-year deal, Kennedy Wilson Properties will manage 56 California branches of subsidiaries Pacific Western National Bank and First National Bank.

Staff Reporter Daniel Miller can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 263, or dmiller@labusinessjournal.com.

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