The four small buildings of the Koll Center Industry don't necessarily stand out at first glance.

At just 130,000 total square feet, it's the kind of project that easily could get lost amid the City of Industry's sea of warehouses. But telltale signs encourage a closer look.

Entrance ways are offset to one corner of the buildings. And the ground-to-ceiling reflective windows suggest more is at play. Indeed, the ambient lit interiors with their large showrooms would make any owner proud and that's the point.

Extra care went into completing the buildings by Koll Co., with the intention of selling them to owners that would occupy them.

Given the large concentration of Asian import-export businesses in the area, the Newport Beach developer went so far as to hire a consultant to ensure the design was compatible with the principles of feng shui, a Chinese practice that seeks to harmonize manmade objects with the environment. For example, that means front and rear entrances are not lined up.


Chalk the feng shui up to good marketing, but the overall effort paid off. All four facilities were sold last summer in advance of completion, with prices ranging from $152 to $164 per square foot. In the two years that it took Koll to entitle the project and complete construction, the sale price almost doubled.

"Even in this market, it is pretty unusual to presell all the buildings in a project like this," noted Robin Dodson, a senior director of Cushman & Wakefield and a project broker.

Of course it helps that the industrial vacancy rate in the city is under 2 percent and there are few projects aimed directly at owner-users a trend that has slowed recently but took off over the past several years amid high lease rates and cheap capital.

Koll bought the 7.3-acre land parcel in 2005 from Air Products Corp. It encountered some delays in entitlement and in relocating power lines underground. But the final building was completed in September, with the sales completed before the commercial credit markets tightened.

"The Koll Industry Center was a good opportunity for redevelopment by the City of Industry," said Don Wood, development manager for Koll. "Instead of one parcel with one owner, there are now four owners contributing to the overall tax base of the city."

BEST SMALL NEW PROJECT

Koll Center Industry

727-788 Phillips Drive,
City of Industry

Developer: Koll Co.,
Newport Beach

Specs: Four buildings, 130,000 total square feet

Key Fact: Designed for owner-user

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