While the industry is abuzz with chatter – and panel discussions – about Asian capital flowing into downtown Los Angeles, other international players are picking up properties, and they don’t have as far to travel.
Canadian investors and developers have been very active in the market, often paying well above the going rate for major properties.
Last week, downtown developer Rising Realty Partners sold the historic 464,000-square-foot PacMutual center for a whopping $200 million to Montreal’s Ivanhoe Cambridge, a real estate subsidiary of major Canadian institutional fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, and Chicago private equity firm Callahan Capital Properties.
Meanwhile, a Canadian player that has been hyperactive in L.A. as of late, Vancouver developer Onni Group, shifted its focus back downtown after a quick jaunt last month into the Manhattan Beach market, where it acquired the Manhattan Towers property for roughly $96 million.
Onni confirmed its allegiance to downtown by paying a nonrefundable deposit to buy a 220,770-square-foot Class A office tower at 800 Wilshire Blvd. for more than $79.5 million. The deal is expected to close in less than two months.
Onni agreed to pay more than $360 a square foot, which is more than $10 a square foot above seller Lincoln Property Co.’s asking price, sources said. That’s significantly heftier than the $285 a square foot average in the downtown market, according to CoStar Group Inc.
The price did not, however, reach the new record per-square-foot price of $430 set in the PacMutual sale.
The 800 Wilshire property is two blocks from 600 Wilshire, which Onni acquired for $78 million last year.
“There’s some synergy, having them close, in terms of management, because we manage our properties, and our intention is to capture what we see as a rise in the downtown office market going forward,” said Kevin Carpenter, vice president of acquisitions at Onni.
Once the deal closes, the firm will have acquired seven properties in downtown Los Angeles. It also owns three lots in the market and has submitted proposals for residential and mixed-use developments on them.
Lincoln and its capital partner, New York investment firm Angelo Gordon & Co., bought 800 Wilshire in May 2013 for $48.2 million, or $218 a square foot, from Prudential Insurance Co. of America. It was then 60 percent leased.
Lincoln renovated the building, transforming outdated tenant spaces into modern creative offices as well as bringing in Dianna Wong Architecture + Interior Design to give the lobby a boutique hotel feel and luring in tenant 800 Degrees Pizza to build out a full-scale restaurant on the ground level. The property is now 95 percent leased by tenants that include FedEx Corp., co-working space Cross Campus and law firm Kegel Tobin & Truce.
“We turned drop-ceiling, drywall and carpets into an open-ceiling model that meets the creative standard … and rebranded it as a creative office,” said David Binswanger, Lincoln’s executive vice president.
Once the asset was stabilized, it was time to sell, he said.
Lincoln had moved rents at the property from a low of around $20 a square foot a year to a high of about $33 square foot a year, Binswanger said.
When tenants roll over, Onni can increase rents even more, Carpenter said.
Mark Renard of Cushman & Wakefield Inc. represented the seller; the buyers were represented internally.
Onni has not been shy downtown. It owns parking lots next to the office it owns at 1212 Flower St., on which it has proposed two mixed-use towers, of 40 and 31 stories, and containing 730 condos and 7,873 square feet of retail. It owns a single-room-occupancy building at 830 S. Olive St.; 303-room extended-stay hotel Level DTLA at 888 S. Olive; the 92-unit Union Lofts at 760 S. Hill St.; and a parking lot at 817-825 S. Hill, on which it has proposed a 50-story, 589-unit apartment tower.
“We’re bullish on downtown and think it has a good future,” Carpenter said. “The change will continue and we just want to capture it.”
L.A.’s Koreatown continues to attract multifamily investors. A joint venture of Beverly Hills firm TRG Investments and Century City’s Cresta Properties has bought a 49-unit, 36,925-square-foot Class C art deco apartment building and adjacent parking lot at 808 S. Hobart Blvd. for $8.4 million, or roughly $230 a square foot, from San Francisco’s Virtu Investments. The property last sold in 2005 for only $4.9 million, or $133 a square foot.
The new ownership group plans to complete a renovation program started by the previous owner that will include upgrading the lobby and common areas as well as refacing the building exterior.
The five-story property, dubbed the Ashby, includes 39 studios that are 650 square feet and rent for $1,129 a month, according to CoStar. It also includes 10 one-bedroom units that are just under 1,000 square feet and rent for $1,600 a month. Only one unit is vacant.
The buyers declined to comment on their plans for rents at the property.
Beverly Hills’ Concord Real Estate Services will manage the property and oversee capital improvements.
“Koreatown is rapidly becoming one of the most vibrant urban markets in Los Angeles,” said Reuben Robin, a principal of both TRG and Concord. “We have seen firsthand the influx of young professionals to Koreatown. Not only does the area benefit from an improving social infrastructure with its exciting and eclectic mix of entertainment and retail options, Koreatown is 10 minutes from Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles and the Westside.”
Kitty Wallace, an executive vice president at Colliers International, who with David O’Neil represented both the buyer and seller, said Koreatown’s multifamily scene has benefitted from $32 billion of development in the past decade.
“It’s during these times that we wish we had more of these buildings to sell,” she said.
Newbury Park bike maker Giant Bicycle Inc. has signed a lease to nearly double the size of the space it takes in Los Angeles, and will move to La Mirada from Cerritos in November.
The company signed a five-year lease late last month, valued at roughly $8 million according to real estate sources, for a 203,000-square-foot industrial building at 15500 Phoebe Ave. to serve as its West Coast distribution center.
The company previously took 106,000 square feet at 13140 Midway Place, where it has been since 2011. It sought a larger warehouse space because sales have increased, and hastened the deal when it saw how few of the right size were available, said Luke McDaniel of Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., who represented the tenant along with Cameron Driscoll.
The landlord, Oltmans Real Estate Services, was represented by INCO Commercial Brokerage.
Staff reporter Hannah Miet can be reached at email@example.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 228.
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