BENJAMIM MARK COLE Senior Reporter
BRAD BERTON Staff Reporter
Real estate investment manager Colony Capital Inc. will take a major role in the ownership and development of the Playa Vista master-planned community near Marina del Rey, well-placed sources confirmed last week.
Colony is involved in intense negotiations to bring a new $200 million capital infusion into the long-delayed Playa Vista development slated to be the home of DreamWorks SKG’s futuristic studio complex.
Well-placed sources said Colony executives would work closely with Maguire Thomas Partners, which would retain a minority interest in the project.
Colony officials, including President/CEO Thomas Barrack Jr., were not available for comment last week.
But sources close to the ongoing negotiations over the $8 billion Westside project’s finances said an announcement is imminent.
“(Colony) will play a very important role with Rob Maguire in the development of the project,” said a source close to the negotiations.
Rob Maguire, managing partner of Maguire Thomas, is expected to remain the individual overseeing the actual development activities.
Maguire has been in negotiations to finalize a Playa Vista recapitalization plan that brings majority control to a team headed by Beverly Hills financier Gary Winnick’s Pacific Capital Group.
Neither Maguire, Winnick nor DreamWorks officials were available to comment on Colony joining the Playa Vista development team.
Winnick is said to have an extensive network of ties to major capital suppliers such as Colony several of whom have expressed interest in participating in the Playa Vista project.
Maguire and Winnick announced in early February that they had reached an “agreement in principle” on a recapitalized Playa Vista development team.
Winnick’s team which has DreamWorks’ public support was to include Union Labor Life Insurance Co., which invests on behalf of trade union pension funds, and big real estate investment firm J.E. Robert Co.
Sources familiar with the ongoing negotiations said Colony’s participation will come to some extent at the expense of J.E. Robert although the latter’s eventual role remains uncertain. A J.E. Robert spokeswoman declined to comment on the situation.
A 100-acre DreamWorks-anchored media-technology park billed as the showpiece of Playa Vista’s first phase was actually expected to get under way last summer.
But Maguire Thomas hadn’t obtained sufficient financial commitments to get work under way on the project’s extensive infrastructure systems (roads, sewers, utilities, etc.) by last fall.
Maguire consistently blamed the delays on environmentalists’ legal challenges to the project’s scope.
In early February, Maguire and the Winnick group announced an agreement under which Maguire Thomas would retain a minority stake in Playa Vista and a Chase Manhattan Bank-led banking group would accept about 65 cents on the dollar as repayment of $150 million in principal mortgage debt owed on the Playa Vista property.
Maguire subsequently refused to continue negotiating final terms of that agreement and rekindled negotiations with other prospective Playa Vista financial partners, sources have confirmed.
Chase Manhattan responded by initiating foreclosure on the Playa Vista loans, filing “notices of default” on L.A. County title records indicating that the Maguire-led landowners now owe the banks $195 million.
Two weeks ago, Maguire said he expects to have the financing issue resolved “within 45 to 60 days.”