In a sign of the rebound in trade activity at the ports, a Chinese logistics company has purchased a vacant industrial building in Rancho Dominguez for $5.3 million.

F.C.C. Logistics Ltd., a third-party logistics company based in Hong Kong, purchased the 71,360-square-foot building at 18747 Laurel Park Road last month from T.A. Associates Inc., a Boston-based real estate investment company. The purchase price translates to about $74 per square foot.

F.C.C. plans to occupy the building later this month after some minor upgrades to turn it into an operations and headquarters center. It already has dock-high and ground-level loading facilities, and a large yard for cargo vehicles.

The building, which is about five miles from the Port of Los Angeles, had sat vacant for about a year after the previous logistics tenant moved out, according to Frank Schulz of the Torrance office Klabin Co./Corfac International, which represented T.A. Associates.

“This building is a barometer of trade activity at the ports,” Schulz said. “When trade volumes went down after the financial collapse, the previous tenant moved out. Now that trade volumes have jumped up again, we saw interest increase in this building.”

Schulz said several buyers vied for the property, which was one of the few logistics-ready buildings up for sale in the South Bay region. F.C.C. and the other potential buyers were interested in purchasing the building because “they want to control their own destiny.”

He added that while sellers of industrial space in other areas have had to discount properties, the relative lack of logistics-ready buildings for sale in the South Bay region meant that T.A. Associates didn’t discount for this sale.

Klabin Co. would not disclose the name of the broker that represented F.C.C. Logistics, which could not be reached for comment.

UCLA Center

UCLA is proposing to build a $160 million, 282-room hotel, conference center and faculty club on its Westwood campus that would allow the university to host major international research conferences.

About $40 million for the six-story building would come from a recent $100 million donation to the university from alumnus and business executive Meyer Luskin and his wife, Renee. The rest would come from the sale of bonds, which would be repaid by room revenue and other conference center operations.

Scott Waugh, executive vice chancellor and provost, said the conference facility and faculty club will be important tools to attract and retain top researchers. It will also allow the university to house on campus visiting researchers and conference attendees, thus boosting its appeal for major academic and scientific research conferences.

University spokesman Phil Hampton said that many details of the center were still being worked out, including whether to charge market or discount rates for the guest rooms.

Hampton said UCLA has been passed over by organizers for some major conferences, in large part because of the lack of on-campus space to house attendees. The university also lacks modern high-tech meeting space to accommodate visiting researchers.

Assuming the university can secure the required approvals from the UC Board of Regents and the city of Los Angeles, construction of the conference center would begin about a year from now, with an opening date slated for late 2014.

However, the hotel-conference center is already generating opposition from nearby homeowners and businesses. Last week, a group of local residents, preservationists and Westwood businesses hosted a town meeting to air their concerns.

In a media advisory for the town hall, the opposition organizers said the center “represents a catastrophically inappropriate commercial intrusion into the heart of the UCLA campus and competes unfairly with local businesses,” especially existing hotels in the area that now host visiting researchers. Preservationists are also concerned about the proposed demolition of the 50-year-old faculty center.

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, who represents the UCLA area, has not taken a position on the merits of the project. But he was upset that the university did not reschedule a Jan. 12 community meeting about the project when informed that the date conflicted with a previously scheduled neighborhood council meeting. He told the Business Journal last week that he wants the university to reach out more to local residents.

Hampton said the university was working to reschedule the community meeting. He also said the guest rooms at the conference center were not intended to compete with local hotels.

Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227.

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