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RE Column

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It looks like the downtown L.A. commercial real estate market is about to get a major shot in the arm by way of a 300,000-square-foot sublease transaction at the well-known Garland Center building in the downtown area’s Central City West district west of the Harbor Freeway.

It’s by far the biggest relocation of a company from outside the downtown area in recent memory.

Once all the final details are worked out particularly an incentive package from the city the Prudential HealthCare managed care company plans to consolidate some 1,400 employees at the former First Interstate Bank operations center at 1200 W. 7th St.

Wells Fargo Bank assumed the master lease of the entire 720,000-square-foot building with the big Wells-FIB merger last year, but doesn’t need the entire facility.

“This deal would be a win-win for everyone involved,” said Senior Vice President Todd Doney of Cushman Realty Corp., who with CRC’s Norm Mitchell and Nico Vilgiate negotiated the sublease transaction on Wells’ behalf. LaSalle Partners represented Prudential.

“Pru gets the benefit of one of most state-of-the-art facilities in western U.S., Wells can minimize its costs (associated with) the property, and most important the city wins with 1,400 jobs coming to the downtown core,” Doney added.

Watson Land refis

Big development firm Watson Land Co. has secured $17.6 million in new mortgage financing for four of its Southern California industrial buildings totaling nearly 750,000 square feet.

The properties include three buildings totaling just under 350,000 square feet within Carson-based Watson Land’s extensive holdings in the South Bay area, along with a fourth 395,000-square-foot building in Corona.

Watson Land is one of Southern California’s oldest and largest land developers. Future projects planned for L.A. County alone total some 6 million square feet.

The financing was arranged through Irvine-based Johnson Capital Group’s exclusive mortgage advisory relationship in the Pacific Southwest with Prudential Insurance Co.’s PruEXPRESS program.

Selby buys Corona apartments

Aggressive Brentwood-based apartment owner-operator R.W. Selby & Co. has acquired the 320-unit River Run Apartments, also in Corona, for $14.6 million in partnership with an unidentified eastern U.S. university’s endowment.

The seller of the big 10-year-old complex on Ebbcreek Road was a partnership known as SSS Group. The Selby company’s apartment investment venture which is pursuing late-vintage 100-plus-unit projects plans to renovate the property.

Marcus & Millichap’s Alex Mogharebi and James Antoyan represented both buyer and seller.

Lowe buys PennCorp building

The investment management division of Brentwood-based real estate company Lowe Enterprises Inc. has acquired the six-story, 84,400-square-foot 3130 Wilshire Building in Santa Monica on behalf of an unidentified pension fund client.

No price was disclosed, but Westside real estate sources estimated that Lowe paid approximately $12 million for the office building historically known as the PennCorp Building.

The seller, an affiliate of L.A.-based real estate investment firm Rubin-Pachulski Properties, had acquired the mortgage on the property last year and foreclosed on the former Japanese owner.

The building has been master-leased to Pennsylvania Life Insurance Co., but the lease expires in September ultimately freeing up as much as 80,000 square feet.

Madison Partners, the new brokerage located at the building, represented both buyer and seller in the purchase-sale transaction. Madison has also been retained to help Lowe lease the property.

The transaction was part of a nice string of deals over the last few weeks totaling about $48 million for upstart Madison.

In addition to two other deals reported here in March, the four-man brokerage also just helped close the sale of the 80,000-square-foot 6800 Owensmouth Ave. office building in Canoga Park.

Beverly Hills-based REIT Arden Realty Inc. purchased the latter from an affiliate of Perlmutter Realty for about $7.5 million. The Madison team co-brokered the deal with Cushman & Wakefield Inc.’s Steve Algermissen.

Nevada group buys Best Buy store

A Nevada-based family trust operating as Liquidambar Ltd. has purchased the 58,000-square-foot, two-year-old Woodland Hills building leased to big electronics retailer Best Buy for $11.5 million.

The seller was Miami-based MRSL Woodland Hills LLP, which had previously acquired the property at 21601 Victory Blvd. in the Warner Center district from Best Buy through a big portfolio acquisition.

Grubb & Ellis Co.’s Marty Cohan represented the seller, while independent broker Ron Pelleg negotiated on behalf of the buyer.

Redline to relocate in SFS

Medical products distributor Redline Medical has leased 110,000 square feet of industrial space at a just-completed speculative business park in high-demand Santa Fe Springs by Newport Beach-based developer Western Realco.

The 10-year deal expanding and relocating the convalescent hospital supply specialist to the 215,000-square-foot Greenstone Avenue business park from a nearby Santa Fe Springs facility is valued at approximately $5 million, according to Western Realco Vice President Gary Edwards.

“The timing of the development was great,” Edwards added, noting that demand for industrial space has prompted substantial development plans in Santa Fe Springs, a business-friendly industrial city in the “mid-County” region.

CB Commercial Real Estate Group’s Laird Perkins and Garry Carter negotiated on behalf of the developer, while CB’s Gary Blum represented Redline Medical.

Brad Berton covers real estate for the Los Angeles Business Journal.

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