A pair of L.A. businessmen who said they helped arrange a $122 million sale of the Bijan store on Rodeo Drive in July are suing two fashion companies connected to the deal, claiming to be owed a finder’s fee.

The ritzy shop sold for $19,405 a square foot, a California retail record, to LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc. after Bijan flipped its contract to purchase the property. Now, LVMH and Bijan are being sued by Andrew Cohen and Vincent Bouvier, who claim a role in the transaction.

A hearing in the matter took place last week, but the judge did not yet set a trial date, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records.

In their complaint, filed July 7, Cohen and Bouvier allege they brought LVMH into the deal after learning that Bijan sought to sell its contract. The 6,287-square-foot store, then owned by the Barton C. Brooks Trust and leased to Bijan, was set to sell for $107 million to Bijan. Then LVMH came on the scene, willing to spend an additional $15 million for the trophy site.

The complaint claims that Cohen brought the LVMH offer to House of Bijan Chairman Dar Mahboubi and the two agreed that Cohen and Bouvier would take 1 percent of the final sales price. The filing also contends that although the agreement was not recorded in writing, “Mr. Cohen reasonably relied on Mr. Mahboubi’s promises.”

But the payment never came through, with Mahboubi denying a deal had been struck, according to the complaint.

Attorneys for Bijan and LVMH did not respond to requests for comment.

The attorney representing Cohen and Bouvier declined to comment.

LVMH is expected to customize the yellow storefront for one of its many luxury brands, possibly replacing it altogether with a bigger building. Nicolas Bijan, the retailer’s principal, said at the time of the sale that the maker of exclusively priced menswear aimed to maintain a presence on Rodeo.

Data Deals

Across Los Angeles County, from the Port of Los Angeles to the desert lands near Palmdale, the city of Los Angeles owns property – lots of it. Now, for the first time, those 8,974 parcels have been mapped out for the public to see.

The online project from City Controller Ron Galperin aims to not only offer a transparent look into city holdings, but also invite community and developer input on just what should become of the assets. (View the map at PropertyPanel.la.)

“I wanted to draw attention to the fact that the city has a very broad portfolio,” Galperin said of the project, which took a year to pull together in a major data-scraping exercise. “While many of these are municipal properties such as parks or libraries, we also own parking lots, commercial, industrial, retail, office, residential, vacant land. And these are extremely valuable. We have a responsibility to the taxpayers to make the best use that we can of these properties.”

How to do that? Depending on their size, type, and location, the properties could be sold, leased, or developed with either nonprofit or for-profit developers.

How to figure that out and structure deals? Galperin is proposing that the city create the position of chief asset manager, aimed at recruiting someone with experience in the private sector.

The idea will need to win approval from the City Council before moving forward, but Galperin is confident it will get traction. Although he wishes the city had a streamlined process for working with developers, he expects the map itself to help attract attention.

“Our portfolio would be the envy of every private developer in the nation,” he said.

Fresh Taste

An adaptive reuse apartment project just west of downtown emerged from its $12 million makeover with a keen suitor. Tucson, Ariz.-based Holualoa Cos. purchased the 42-unit building last month for $17.3 million from Holland Partner Group, based in Vancouver, Wash.

Holualoa appreciated that the building’s historic style helped attract tenants, said its broker Paul Darrow, then vice president of investments at Marcus & Millichap, who worked on the deal with Ron Harris.

“New construction can look similar and there’s only so much you can do,” Darrow said. “But when you have these historic buildings, it’s a differentiator from a renter’s standpoint.”

The site, called the Mint, was built in 1923 and later used for Good Samaritan Hospital’s medical offices. Holland purchased it and a neighboring parcel from Good Samaritan in 2007 for about $45 million. Holland is building a 600-unit apartment there.

The deal marked one of Darrow’s last at Marcus & Millichap; he joined Cushman & Wakefield this month as managing director in the multifamily advisory services group.

Staff reporter Daina Beth Solomon can be reached at dsolomon@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 237.

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