Church Moves on Development of Former College Site
Real Estate by Danny King
The church is close to naming the Chosen One.
Worldwide Church of God, owner of the 46-acre Ambassador College site between Colorado and West Del Mar boulevards in Pasadena, has reapplied for residential entitlements with the city and narrowed its list of potential development partners to two.
Real estate sources said the leading contenders to develop the planned 1,942 residential units are L.A.-based Urban Partners and Orange County-based Shea Properties.
Gregg Herbert, the Grubb & Ellis Co. senior vice president representing the church, confirmed it was “nearing a decision on a master development consultant for the property” but would not identify the companies on the short list.
The church, through a spokeswoman, would only say it expected the selection of a master development consultant to be announced in the second week of July.
In a switch from an earlier development plan, which involved the sale of the property to Legacy Partners, the church will retain title, with the developer working on a consulting basis.
Herbert would only say the potential development consultant “will be an entity highly recognizable in the residential community.”
Dan Rosenfeld, principal at Urban Partners, which is developing a mixed-use project at the Gold Line station and West Del Mar Boulevard, four blocks east of the site, referred inquiries to Worldwide Church of God. Officials at Shea Properties, which is developing a 304-unit site on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, could not be reached for comment. Urban is.
On June 12, the Church applied for the 1,942 units with the city, according to Brian League, acting housing administrator and former Ambassador site project manager for the city of Pasadena.
The application was the first for the site since Legacy Partners, which had been the site’s developer before walking away from the project in May, filed for 1,727 units in 1999.
While El Segundo voters, by a margin of 2-1, approved Thomas Properties Group’s plans for a 2 million-square-foot mixed-use development, it’s not quite time to break out the spades.
Kilroy Realty Corp., whose headquarters sit across the street from the 46-acre site, is still challenging the project in court.
On June 18, voters approved Measures J and L, which affirmed the City Council’s previous approval of the project plans and its environmental impact certification.
Kilroy’s suit against Thomas Properties, FedEx Corp. (the landowner), the city of El Segundo and its City Council claims that the environmental impact report for the El Segundo Corporate Campus project was inadequate and that the approval process was flawed.
The measure was put on the ballot at Kilroy’s initiative after the company gathered the approximately 1,100 signatures needed in January.
Officials from Kilroy did not return calls seeking comment.
“It’s likely to play out over the rest of the year,” said Thomas Ricci, senior vice president with Thomas Properties, who maintains that Kilroy’s opposition is based on competitive interests, not environmental concerns.
“Kilroy is interested in either stopping the project or reducing the value so they could buy it,” he said. “They have not made it a secret that they have wanted this site.”
Control of Long Beach’s only oceanfront office complex has changed hands as real estate investor Abbey Co. has purchased the 66-year groundlease on the 275,000-square-foot Catalina Landing for about $20 million.
The seller of the leasehold interest, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co., just renegotiated the original 66-year deal struck in 1982 with the city of Long Beach.
“The new owners are going to correct a lot of deferred maintenance and improve the common areas,” said Grubb & Ellis Co. Senior Vice President Kevin Shannon, who, with Grubb’s David Coe, represented both sides in the deal.
Abbey will be moving its headquarters to the four-building complex from Garden Grove later this year, according to Shannon.
In addition to the building, which is 65 percent leased, the site includes a 7.1-acre private marina leased by Catalina Express.
Officials from Madison Marquette confirmed last week they had purchased the groundlease on the Bullocks/Macy’s redevelopment in Westwood in August and that they were now marketing both the ground and improvements.
Company representatives, who did not return calls for an earlier story about the project’s sale, also said there was no financial partner in the property. The earlier story had Credit Suisse First Boston as a financial partner.
The company entered into a groundlease with Federated Department Stores Inc. in 1999.
Bob Baker, senior vice president at Madison Marquette, said no asking price had been tagged to the site and that the company wanted to remain management and leasing agent after any sale.
Baker said the remainder of Madison Marquette’s Westwood Village portfolio, of which Credit Suisse is a financial partner, had not been put on the market, though “we always look at opportunities that come to us.”
Staff reporter Danny King can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 230, or at