Editor's Note: A story in the September 2 issue headlined “Chinese Developer Bags Golf Course in Malibu” misstated the location of developer Hudson Pacific Properties. It is based in Brentwood.

The Malibu Golf Club is finally emerging from the financial muck of the recession. The 650-acre property sold for $30.5 million to Chinese company Shinhan Golden Faith International Development Ltd. after being in the hands of a court-appointed receiver.

Former Lehman Brothers Chief Executive Dick Fuld and some partners purchased the site in 2006 for $32.8 million and borrowed millions to restore the site, nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains. The venture crumbled under debt amid the recession and the partnership, Malibu Associates, was forced to file twice for bankruptcy, first in 2009 and then in 2015.

Bill Hoffman, chief executive of property management firm Trigild, the receiver, said he vetted numerous offers, including a handful from the property’s former owners and investors, but was looking for a buyer who could quickly and reliably pay the full amount in cash. Shinhan fit the bill – even if the transaction required a series of interpreters and 3 a.m. phone calls. The company did not disclose its plans for the site, but is thought to be considering several options, including renovating the putting greens or building homes.

A team at Beverly Hills brokerage Kennedy Wilson led by Fred Cordova marketed the property, snagging a price higher than initially expected for the much neglected swath of land.

“I keep hearing in the back of my head, ‘650 acres with a Malibu address,’” Hoffman said, describing the potential appeal of the site once a new buyer spruces it up. “Everyone was happy.”

Historic Appeal

As soon as Beverly Hills developer Palisades Capital Partners announced plans in July to demolish a chunk of the former Metropolitan Water District building just outside of downtown, historic architecture buffs sent up the alarm. A petition being circulated by Yuval Bar-Zemer of Linear City Development has garnered 300 signatures advocating for the city to designate the 53-year-old building a historic cultural monument.

“The majority of the people that responded are in a state of disbelief that a developer would even consider throwing the wrecking ball on the building,” Bar-Zemer said via email.

He bought a ’70s-era portion of the long-neglected site in 2011 for $6.8 million and transformed the office – designed by acclaimed modernist architect William Pereira – into luxury apartments called the Elysian.

He had been in the running to buy the rest of the site but was outbid last year by Palisades, which paid $30 million for the 5.25-acre site then occupied by a church.

Palisades said it aims to press ahead with its original plan to construct a mixed-use project.

“Leading experts have determined that our property lacks any historical integrity,” the company said in a statement.

The Cultural Heritage Commission will vote on the matter Sept. 15. If it approves the application, the Los Angeles City Council has the final say. But monument status will not necessarily save it – only require extra reviews and approvals.

Hudson Greenlight

The Los Angeles City Council flashed Hudson Pacific Properties the green light to build a 15-story office building in Brentwood, marking yet another blow to activist groups that oppose megadevelopments in the area.

Council members voted unanimously, with one absent, last week to approve the project, which would put 274,000 square feet of office space and 26,000 square feet of retail at 5901 Sunset Blvd. During the three-year planning process, Hudson agreed to cut back on ground-floor square footage to allow pedestrian space and lowered the height from an originally planned 18 stories. The San Francisco-based company aims to begin construction early next year, according to a representative.

The Hollywood-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation led the charge to halt the project, saying that it would create noise and gridlock by being too large for the site. That’s been its same objection to various other neighborhood projects, including the Palladium Residences down the street, slated to be two 28-story towers with 730 residences.

After Palladium developer Crescent Heights won City Council approval in March, AHF sued the company and the city. AHF, meanwhile, is a major backer of a proposed ballot measure called the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. It would impose a two-year moratorium on any project requiring a zoning change, height district change, or amendment to the General Plan in order to build at a bigger size or greater density than otherwise allowed. It would also require city planners to review and update the General Plan every five years. The initiative recently garnered enough signatures to land on the March ballot.

Hudson is already seizing on the allure of Hollywood with its 14-story Icon building on Sunset, slated for completion by the end of the year. Netflix in February signed a lease for the full building at 323,000 square feet.

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

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