Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is expanding his already colossal apartment portfolio.

Sterling, who owns more than 155 apartment buildings in Southern California, has closed on a 91-unit Koreatown complex, the Ardmore Court Apartments, for $16.2 million.

He bought the property, at 510 S. Ardmore Ave., from a joint venture of San Francisco’s Fowler Properties Acquisitions/PCCP and California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which purchased it in 2001 for about $7.4 million. The deal closed April 20.

At $296 a square foot, the sale price is significantly above the average $213 for comparable buildings in the last three years, according to CoStar Group Inc. Sterling certainly has the cash. He was ranked No. 10 on the Business Journal’s Wealthiest Angelenos list last month with a net worth of $2.6 billion.

Greg Harris, an executive vice president at Marcus & Millichap’s Institutional Property Advisors who represented both sides in the deal, said that Sterling already owns a few buildings in the area and has been actively seeking new ones as the market heats up.

“Koreatown is one of the most desirable apartment investment markets right now,” Harris said. “There’s so much more happening in the community. There are a lot more restaurants and things for renters to do.”

Fowler, which spent about $2 million in renovations, has been ready to cash out and was pleased to sell, he added.

Built in 1980, the three-story building is nearly entirely leased. The units range from studios to two-bedroom apartments and average about 600 square feet with monthly rents of $1,350. Sterling does not plan additional upgrades and could raise rents since it is not under rent control.

Recently, he also purchased a 60-unit building at 1260 Veteran Ave. in Westwood for $13.3 million from West L.A.’s Realty Center Management Inc.

Institutional Property’s Kevin Green and Joe Grabiec, along with Harris, represented both sides in both deals.

Big Sale

Here is yet more evidence that apartments are now the most popular real estate investment: a nine-unit building in West Los Angeles sold last month at the highest price per square foot for its ZIP code in 11 years.

A private L.A. investor group bought the 3321 Mentone Ave. building for $2.89 million from JM Residential I LP, a San Diego-based real estate investor. The price comes out to about $360 a square foot, the highest in Palms and Mar Vista’s 90034 ZIP code since 2001, according to CoStar.

“The quality and unit mix of the asset, along with the lack of inventory, contributed to the record-breaking price,” said Blake Rogers, who represented the seller with Albert Shilton of Charles Dunn Co.’s Century City office.

Built in 2005, the 8,000-square-foot property is 100 percent occupied. The units are all townhomes with two bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and private rooftop sun decks. Monthly rates range from $1,800 to $2,100.

The buyer is acquiring the building as part of a 1031 exchange, which allows investors to avoid paying capital gains taxes if they use a real estate proceeds to invest in a similar building within six months. The L.A. investment group pulled its equity from a Texas property to close on this deal. It was represented by Simon Halff at Centennial Real Estate.

Insulation Expansion

Insul-Therm International Inc. is relocating and expanding its Southern California offices in Commerce.

The Sacramento company, which manufactures and distributes insulation products for industrial and commercial customers, signed a seven-year lease to occupy all of the 47,500 square feet at 6655 E. 26th St. The deal with landlord Los Angeles Board of Adjusters, a private real estate company, is valued at about $1.6 million, a 40 percent cut from the company’s current square-foot rent.

With the relocation, Insul-Therm is expanding from 30,000 square feet at 6333 Corsair St., also in Commerce.

David Fults, a senior vice president at Voit Real Estate Services in Los Angeles who represented the tenant, said that the soft Commerce market allowed for the lower lease rate.

Brian McLoughlin, a senior vice president at Voit, also represented the tenant. The landlord was represented by Jeff Sanita, John McMillian and Tim Wallace of Cushman & Wakefield Inc.

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

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