A 20 percent profit in one month?

That’s what hotelier John Blanchard, lead developer on downtown L.A.’s Ace Hotel, reaped when he flipped a 1.2-acre plot of land in the Arts District earlier this month.

Blanchard, who purchased the site at 1100 E. Fifth St. last month for $15 million, has sold the 54,000-square-foot parcel to Beverly Hills firm Maxxam Enterprises for $18 million, or roughly $330 a square foot.

The land traded for a higher per-square-foot price than other recent deals. In March, Irvine’s SunCal, a developer of planned communities, bought a 14.6-acre site at Sixth and Alameda streets for $130 million, or about $204 a foot.

“Prices have jumped in the Arts District,” said Colliers International’s Adam Tischer, who represented Blanchard. “While it may seem like unprecedented appreciation in a short period of time, the Arts District is still relatively cheap compared to other districts in downtown Los Angeles, such as South Park, to the tune of 30 to 50 percent.”

Because the city’s Planning Department is finalizing revised development standards that will affect new projects in the Arts District, it is unknown what Maxxam can or will build on the land.

“Historically, the Arts District was zoned for heavy manufacturing,” Tischer said. “Currently the city is amending the zoning to reflect the current direction of the neighborhood. Drafts of the new zoning ordinance could allow retail, creative office, residential, parking, etc.”

Representatives of Maxxam did not return requests for comment. Blanchard could not be reached.

Mike Condon Jr. of Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. represented Maxxam in the sale.

Honest Move

Playa Vista continues to be a magnet for expanding tech companies, and it can soon add Honest Co. to its roster of converts.

The e-commerce company, which sells eco-friendly baby and body care products and other wellness items, has signed a lease for 83,000 square feet on the top three floors of 12130 Millennium Drive and will relocate from Santa Monica early next year.

The company, co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, L.A. entrepreneur Brian Lee, Sean Kane and Christopher Gavigan, will be nearly tripling its existing space, making room for an expected influx of new hires.

Craig Gatarz, Honest Co.’s executive vice president, said the move would allow the company the space it needs to expand its head count across all departments.

“How many employees will be hired remains to be seen,” Gatarz said.

The retailer, which has a valuation of around $1 billion, signed an 11-year lease earlier this month with New York real estate firm Clarion Partners. The deal could be valued at $49.3 million, according to sources’ estimates of rent at the property.

The property is part of a two-building, 300,000-square-foot Class A office complex known as i|o at Playa Vista, which stands for “indoor, outdoor.” Lincoln Property Co. developed the property in 2010 and sold the then-vacant property last year to Clarion for $133 million. Lincoln stayed on as property and construction manager as well as leasing agent.

David Toomey and Matthew Miller of Cresa Los Angeles and Marc Bretter of Travers Cresa represented Honest Co. Rick Buckley of L.A. Realty Partners and Kent Handleman of Lincoln Property Co. represented Clarion in the lease transaction.

Toomey said Honest Co. toured spaces in Santa Monica, Culver City and Playa Vista as part of its search.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s economic development team toured locations with the Honest Co. execs and walked them through the city approval process.

Headquarters Hop

Direct marketing firm Guthy-Renker has signed a lease for 90,000 square feet in El Segundo, and will move its headquarters from Palm Desert in July 2016.

The 10-year lease for the top three-and-a-half floors of 100 N. Sepulveda Blvd., signed earlier this month, is valued at $33 million, according to estimates from sources familiar with the market. The 507,000-square-foot Class A office building is one of three towers that make up PCT, formerly dubbed the Pacific Corporate Towers.

The lease will consolidate Guthy-Renker’s executive offices in Palm Desert and its marketing office in Santa Monica. Together, those sites account for roughly 87,000 square feet, making the move a slight expansion.

The company has been at its Palm Desert location for 27 years and its Santa Monica location for 18 years.

“This Guthy move to PCT is the largest (Westside) move and certainly the highest-profile tenant to move to El Segundo in many years,” said CBRE Group Inc.’s Grafton Tanquary III, who along with John Ayoob represented the landlord, a pension fund managed by New York investment advisement firm BlackRock.

The company chose El Segundo because the rent was reasonable and it is close to where most employees live, said Dirk van de Bunt, executive vice president of Guthy-Renker.

The company wanted to be in creative space but also reap the amenity advantages of a corporate tower, said Bruce Schuman of Savills Studley, who represented Guthy-Renker along with Matthew Miller and Sean Westgate of Cresa Los Angeles.

Staff reporter Hannah Miet can be reached at hmiet@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 228.

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