Thomas Properties Group Inc. is getting a boost with the decision of Grant Thornton LLP to expand its L.A. office and move it to City National Plaza.

The Chicago audit and accounting firm is leasing the entire seventh floor of the north tower at the downtown L.A. landlord’s 515 S. Flower St. property. The 10-year deal for almost 25,000 square feet is valued at roughly $6 million, according to industry sources.

The firm is leaving its longtime home at the Wedbush Center, at 1000 Wilshire Blvd., as it seeks to accommodate the growth of its L.A. staff. Grant Thornton plans to move in December. 

“We are delighted to move our office to such a premier location,” said Joel Anik, managing partner for the firm’s Southern California practice, in a statement.

The new lease makes the 2.7 million-square-foot office complex, which features two 51-story office towers, to about 89 percent leased. Architecture firm Gensler recently inked a lease there for 50,000 square feet.

“(It) shows the attraction of our complex to first-rate tenants in the downtown market,” said Paul Rutter, co-chief operating officer of Thomas Properties, which spent $200 million renovating the plaza since acquiring it in 2003.

Grant Thornton was represented by UGL Services’ Executive Vice Presidents Scott Goldman and David Kluth, and Senior Vice President Mike McKeever. Thomas Properties was represented in-house by Senior Vice President Kent Handleman.

Bay City Moves

Kilroy Realty Corp. closed on its fourth office building in San Francisco last week as the real estate investment trust continues to bet on the Bay Area and its robust tech industry.

The L.A. REIT bought the 12-story office building, at 201 Third St., in the burgeoning tech district south of Market Street, for $103 million from Adco Group Inc., a New York real estate and merchant banking company.

The 311,000-square-foot property is 90 percent occupied. Kilroy plans to reposition the property for tech firms by opening up the floor plans, raising ceilings, increasing natural light and building common spaces.

This is the sixth office property that Kilroy has purchased in the last 12 months, spending $516 million. The owner of nearly 150 office and industrial properties on the West Coast, it is negotiating for three other properties, including Sunset Media Tower, at 6255 Sunset Blvd.

Anthony Paolone, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst, said the REIT is playing it smart by acquiring low-profile buildings in improving neighborhoods that don’t attract aggressive counterbids from institutional investors.

“I think they’ve picked a pretty good slice of the market to concentrate on,” he said.

Still, Kilroy disappointed Wall Street in the second quarter when it reported funds from operations of 55 cents per share, missing analysts’ estimates by 3 cents. Shares closed at $32.26, down 6 percent, on Sept. 21.

Only in Hollywood

Here’s a story you rarely hear: Hollywood residents have filed an objection to a proposed apartment development because they say it’s simply too small.

That’s right, neighbors of a proposed 179-unit apartment complex at the former KCOP-TV studios have filed an appeal with the Central Los Angeles Planning Commission to try to get developer Martin Group to upsize the project. The neighbors, organized into a group called Community With a Conscience, argue the area lacks housing.

Not surprisingly, the developer would have liked to see the project, at 915 N. La Brea Ave., bigger as well. In fact, it initially proposed 219 units. But after that plan was approved by the City Council in 2009, another neighborhood group sued the project for being too large. Instead of going through a lengthy legal battle, Martin Group chose to scale down the project to its current size.

The appeal is going before the commission Sept. 27. Staff has recommended denying the appeal and proceeding with the 179-unit plan.

Representatives from both sides did not return calls or e-mails.

Staff reporter Jacquelyn Ryan can be reached at jryan@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 228.

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