Add one more marquee name to the Silicon Beach roster.

Redmond, Wash., computer giant Microsoft Corp. is opening a showcase shop in Venice’s Abbot Kinney neighborhood, only blocks from sometimes competitor Google Inc.’s local offices.

The software and device maker signed a lease last month for 3,229 square feet at 901 Abbot Kinney Blvd. with landlord DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners, the Business Journal has learned. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Microsoft did not return messages seeking comment, but brokers familiar with the company said that they believe the showcase shop will be similar to the Retail Experience Center at the company’s headquarters. That store offers a place for visitors to test company products, including its new Surface tablet and versions of its software. Microsoft is not expected to sell retail products at the Venice location.

This would be the first shop of its kind for the company in Los Angeles and would be the first location of any kind for the company in the Venice area. Microsoft does have other small offices in Los Angeles, including an 8,500-square-foot advertising office at 2425 Olympic Blvd. in Santa Monica.

Andrew Jennison, a partner at Santa Monica brokerage Industry Partners who was not involved in the deal, said the explosion of tech startups presumably made the location more attractive for the company.

“They want to be near the startup accelerators and companies, who they think will take advantage of their products,” he said.

DLJ has been remodeling the Abbot Kinney building since purchasing it in July for about $13 million from NextEngine Inc., according to CoStar Group Inc. The 14,275-square-foot building is the former headquarters of furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames, and Facebook Inc. had small offices in the building before it moved to Playa Vista. The only tenant in the building is design firm Continuum.

It is not clear when Microsoft will open its doors.

Student Housing Sale

In the largest single student housing sale on record in Los Angeles County, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board has purchased the University Gateway near USC for $204 million, according to CoStar.

The pension fund, which invests in real estate across the country, bought the leasehold for the student housing property, which sits on land owned by USC, from developers Urban Partners LLC and Blackstone Real Estate Advisors LP this month. The leasehold extends until Feb. 15, 2064, with four 10-year renewal options.

The 421-unit building, at 601-625 W. Jefferson Blvd. near South Figueroa Street, can house more than 1,600 students.

The total sale price is the largest for any student housing project in the county in CoStar records, which date back to 2009. But the sale price on a square-foot basis, at about $328, is lower than the Tuscany Apartments, at 3760 S. Figueroa St., which sold for $583 a square foot in 2009.

Near the Expo Line light-rail station, the two-year-old complex has a fitness center, multiscreen lounge, study and rooftop lounge. The 83,000 square feet of ground-floor retail is fully leased to CVS Caremark Corp., grocer Fresh & Easy, JP Morgan Chase Bank and others.

Matthew Burton, principal and chief financial officer at Urban Partners, said the partnership began marketing the property for sale about six months ago, after fully leasing it up.

“It was never targeted as a long-term hold and we held it as long as we thought was prudent,” he said. “We are happy with the price and the outcome.”

The new owner could not be reached for comment.

Fallas Opening

Gardena-based retailer National Stores Inc. opened a Fallas Discount Stores retail shop in a former Circuit City location in Compton.

Fallas opened doors in a new 32,320-square-foot store in Watt Properties’ Compton Town Center at East Compton Boulevard and South Willowbrook Avenue last week.

Fallas joins retailers including CVS and Ralphs grocery to bring the 196,442-square-foot retail center to almost 80 percent leased.

“We’ve wanted to be in Compton for quite a while; we feel there’s a good customer base that we can service,” said Susan Wempe, senior vice president at National Stores.

Chris Wilson of Wilson Commercial Real Estate represented Watt Properties. Richard Rizika of CBRE Group Inc. represented Fallas.

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

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