Commercial property sales are surging in downtown L.A.’s Arts District as more developers and investors see potential in the once heavily industrial area.

Among the latest deals was last month’s purchase of a former Coca-Cola Co. production facility at 963 E. Fourth St. The property was sold for $19 million to real estate investment firms GPI Cos. of Los Angeles and Atlas Capital Group of New York.

Coca-Cola sold the three-story, 124,000-square-foot warehouse to Cecilia Siu Lee of Pasadena 20 years ago for $2.9 million. About a year ago, Lee’s Harmony Investments hired CBRE Group Inc. to market the property for sale, according to CoStar Group Inc. Lee & Associates represented the buyers.

The purchase, which closed March 20, came as news surfaced that San Francisco firm Shorenstein Properties is under contract to purchase a former Ford Motor Co. factory just blocks away for an estimated $37 million. Both sites are said to have significant redevelopment potential.

Drew Planting, a founder and managing partner of GPI, said the firms plan to repurpose the building as creative office space, with restaurant space on the ground floor.

Big warehouses aren’t the only sites attracting investors to the area. In late February, a joint venture of L.A. investment firms Pacifica-PRG Investment and Management Inc. and Artist & Recreation purchased eight small buildings, totaling about 15,700 square feet, along with a large parking lot at the southwest corner of Seventh and Mateo streets for about $4.9 million. The property had been on the market for almost three years.

Ezra Callahan, an A&R partner who made millions as the sixth employee hired by social media behemoth Facebook Inc., said he’s optimistic about downtown.

“The evolution of the Arts District has been remarkable,” he said in a statement, “and we are excited to contribute to the energy and growth of the neighborhood.”

South Bay Beginning

A vacant office building in Long Beach sold late last month for $6.1 million, the first of what might be many properties to be snapped up by a newly formed joint venture.

Irvine investment firm Lotus Real Estate Partners, in partnership with Dallas real estate private equity firm TriGate Capital, bought the 83,000-square-foot Class B office building at 4031 Via Oro Avenue for less than $74 a square foot.

The seller, Charter Communications Inc., first acquired the nearly 30-year-old building 14 years ago for $6.9 million, or about $83 a square foot, according to CoStar.

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