Veteran real estate broker Bill Boyd, who began working for Grubb & Ellis Co. in 1998 and rose to become an executive vice president and managing director of the Los Angeles region, has left the company.

His departure follows the December 2007 merger between Grubb & Ellis and NNN Realty Advisors Inc., a Santa Ana-based firm that has specialized in selling securities based on portfolios of commercial and residential property.

The merger fed speculation that the commercial brokerage business Boyd's bread and butter could become less of a focus for Grubb & Ellis, which moved its corporate headquarters to Santa Ana from Chicago after the merger.

Boyd managed 26 commercial brokers in the company's downtown office, eight brokers in the City of Industry outpost and oversaw three other offices in the region. Boyd said he left the firm May 5 in a mutual agreement.

"My time at Grubb & Ellis was a great experience and we had a great time making the downtown office competitive again by hiring some of the best agents in the market," said Boyd, who got his start with CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. in 1981. "The appreciation of our clients was the best report card we got."

Janice McDill, vice president of public and investor relations for Grubb & Ellis, declined to comment, saying the company does not give interviews about former employees.

Boyd said he is enjoying taking meetings with national and regional firms about job opportunities. If he doesn't land a job quickly, Boyd joked he'll be "selling sun tan oil in Tahiti."

Boyd's final hire at Grubb & Ellis, Ed Rosenthal, joined the company's downtown office April 9 as a senior vice president. Rosenthal had worked at the company before leaving about five years ago to join CB Richard Ellis Group, where he started the Urban Redevelopment Group with Mark Tarczynski.

Downtown Strength

Milbank Real Estate Services Inc. has signed three lease deals that indicate the downtown office market is holding up despite the wider real estate downturn.

The Los Angeles-based real estate services company completed the deals at its Figueroa Tower, a Class A 24-story office building at 660 S. Figueroa St.

The leases start in the range of $2.75 to $3 per square foot per month a noteworthy increase from the $1.82-per-square-foot-per-month asking rent Milbank advertised after it purchased the property in 2004. Unlike the typical 3 percent annual rate increases, rates go up by 4 percent annually.

In the most recent deal, which closed May 27, Tabata Oxford Personnel LLC of San Francisco signed a three-year lease for 953 square feet on floor 17. The deal is valued at $218,755 and starts at $3 per square foot per month. The company will move in June 9.

Allied North American Insurance Co. signed a three-year lease valued at $361,773 for 2,859 square feet on floor 19. The lease starts at $2.80 per square foot per month and the company will move in June 9. The deal closed in March.

Also in March, Royal Business Bank, a newly formed bank for Chinese-American businesses, signed a five-year lease for headquarters space. The bank will occupy 7,636 square feet on floor 18 starting in July once build-out is complete. The lease starts at $2.75 per square foot per month, with the deal valued at $357,477.

Milbank leasing director Michael Johnson said that businesses are attracted to the building's location at the corner of 7th and Figueroa streets atop a subway station.

"Some of our tenants base their decision on the fact the Metro is below the building," he said.

Fixer-Upper

In an off-market deal, Newport Beach-based Realm Group, an investment and development company, has picked up a dilapidated Long Beach office building for $9.6 million.

At about $143 per square foot, the purchase of the 67,070-square-foot building at 200 Pine Ave. might seem like a bargain, but the building needs significant work.

JR Pearce, a principal of Realm, said the building's HVAC, roof and elevators have not been maintained for some time, so the company is spending $3.2 million on upgrades that should be completed by year's end.

The building is 79 percent occupied and its 13,200 square feet of retail space is fully leased to two eateries.

Realm purchased the building May 30 with partner Irvine-based Bascom Group LLC from seller Ensemble Real Estate Services LLC of Phoenix.

Ensemble, a real estate development, investment and management firm, purchased the building as part of a two-property portfolio in May 2007 for $21 million.

Ensemble did not return calls seeking comment.

"We buy ugly buildings in pretty locations," Pearce said. "We try to buy Class C buildings or below and do an extensive re-imagining. We want to try to bring it up to the B market."

Robert Alperin of Cushman & Wakefield Inc. represented Realm and the seller represented itself in-house.

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

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.