Fallout from the year-end purchase of real estate brokerage Cassidy Turley by an affiliate of DTZ Investment Holdings has hit Los Angeles.

Company officials confirmed that Jonathan Larsen, a fixture in downtown L.A. real estate circles and Cassidy Turley’s regional managing principal for Los Angeles, left the firm Jan. 23 along with four others. Larsen, who moved from Transwestern to join Cassidy Turley when it opened its local office in April 2012, brokered last year’s biggest office lease, representing Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith in its December deal for 215,000 square feet at the U.S. Bank Tower after its offices were severely damaged in the DaVinci fire.

Larsen could not be reached for comment.

Suzanne Lee, a Cassidy Turley managing director and principal who came with Larsen from Transwestern, stayed on at DTZ, as did two others who made the move, according to the company’s website.

“There will be no other changes,” said Dan Broderick, DTZ’s San Diego-based regional managing principal, responsible for its five Southern California offices. “Moving forward, we have a growth strategy for the region; we expect to grow.”

Broderick, who would not comment specifically on the departure of Larsen and the others, said the firm would consolidate its two L.A. offices. It also has a presence in Woodland Hills.

DTZ, a London-headquartered real estate services company, purchased Washington, D.C.-based Cassidy Turley for a reported $557 million in a deal that closed Dec. 31, and the Cassidy Turley name is being phased out. Real estate blog Real Deal, which covers the commercial real estate industry in New York, reported last week that 45 employees nationwide were let go by DTZ on Jan. 23, including nine in Manhattan.

Larsen started his real estate career in Los Angeles as a broker at CBRE Group Inc. before opening the local office of Trammell Crow Co. (which CBRE later purchased). He joined Transwestern in 2006, and has brokered some of the biggest downtown deals over the last 20 years, including the 1996 sale of the historic Biltmore hotel and office tower, a 125,000-square-foot lease for Citigroup and a 1 million-square-foot sale/lease for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Apartment Sales

Laguna Niguel real estate investor Raintree Partners significantly boosted its L.A. presence at the end of the year, snapping up a two-property multifamily package that added 327 units to its portfolio.

The company acquired three other properties with a combined 149 units earlier in the year.

“We invest up and down California, but I’d say we’re the most bullish right now on Los Angeles,” said Aaron Hancock, Raintree’s director of acquisitions. “The recovery in L.A. has really been accelerating over the last year or two.”

He estimated that 90 percent of Raintree’s investments last year were apartment deals in Los Angeles, including two complexes in Hancock Park purchased in April and a 39-unity property in Studio City acquired in September.

Terms of the most recent transaction were not disclosed, but according to real estate data provider CoStar Group Inc., one building, the Westwood Apartments, a 153-unit multifamily property at 415 Gayley Ave., traded for $54.5 million, or about $356,000 a unit.

The seller was Carmel Partners, a San Francisco investor in multifamily properties that purchased the property for $20.5 million in 2005.

Raintree also snagged the Pico Lanai Apartments, a 174-unit community at 2501 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica, in the deal, which closed in late December. The purchase price on that property could not be determined.

Raintree intends to spend $7.8 million to make over the two properties, which were built in the early 1960s.

“You get a ton of drive-by traffic there,” Hancock said of the Pico Lanai property, “but the property sticks out like a sore thumb. It just looks dated.”

Expanding Appeal

One way to address a whopping large vacancy in your office building is to dress it up a little.

That’s what Brookfield Property Partners, the largest office landlord in downtown Los Angeles, will be doing for two of its properties. The company has set up a competition of sorts among six downtown architecture firms, asking them to design the office of the near future, with only budgets and time lines as the ground rules.

“We envision this project enticing tenants who may traditionally shy away from certain buildings, to show them how this can happen, that they can accomplish everything they want in our buildings,” said John Barganski, senior vice president of leasing for Brookfield.

The canvas the architects will use are in three office spaces in the south tower of the 24 percent-vacant Wells Fargo Center, 355 S. Grand Ave., and three in the 21 percent-vacant Gas Co. Tower, 555 W. Fifth St. Both now contain traditional spaces, with dropped ceilings and enclosed areas that Brookfield has realized isn’t what newer, younger companies want.

Participating in the competition are Gensler, IA Interior Architects, Shlemmer Algaze Associates, Rottet Studio, Unispace and Wolcott Architecture | Interiors. The designs should be finished by April and on display to prospective tenants at a mid-May event. They will be move-in ready and offered at market rate or at a premium market rate. If successful, the team will use the same tactic in its other buildings.

“It’s been a low-key marketing effort until now,” Barganski said. “It’s going to really catch steam when people can see the (finished) product.”

Staff reporters Jonathan Diamond, Cale Ottens and Carol Lawrence contributed to this report.

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