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Commercial Brokerage Has Unusual Staff: All Women

By now, most folks have grown accustomed to seeing a smattering of women in real estate brokerages. But the newly opened Sherman Oaks office of Daum Commercial Real Estate Services is another matter entirely. The office, which opened in December to service the office sector, has turned real estate’s stereotypical male image on its ear with a staff made up entirely of women. Four female brokers have signed on since December, when the office opened as a satellite to the brokerage’s Woodland Hills outpost. The staffers are: Paulette Toumazos and Angie Weber, previously of Charles Dunn Co. Inc.; Leslie Kenworthy, whose former company, First Commercial Group, merged with Daum; and Christina Porter, a former Beitler Commercial Realty Services broker, who joined in July. No one at Daum set out to break any molds when they began staffing up the outpost. It just so happened that the entire staff turned out to be women, said Toumazos, vice president for office services, who joined in December. “I think it’s more of a curiosity and it is something that sets us apart,” Toumazos said. Coincidence aside, the brokers say the feminine bent makes for a special camaraderie. “I think it is a little easier to share stuff amongst ourselves,” Toumazos said. “If there’s a woman there who has been through the same situation, she’s anxious to help.” Daum has been expanding from its industrial focus, adding specialists in the retail and office sectors for about a year. But as with most commercial real estate companies, the staff is heavily weighted toward men outside the Sherman Oaks office. “We are sadly outnumbered,” Toumazos said, “but we’re starting to get our numbers up.” Conejo Boom The Johnston Group, developer of Corporate Center at Malibu Canyon, will be adding five new buildings to its Conejo Valley portfolio. The Calabasas-based company acquired two office buildings in Westlake Village for $11.9 million. “We saw there was still some upside in rents and we’re looking for some value-added acquisitions,” said Steve Morse, executive vice president and director of acquisitions. “We closed on these because they have a ground-zero location.” Conejo Valley office space has been filling up quickly, and rents have been rising. Morse said that since the company opened escrow on the properties, monthly rents in the area have risen into the $2-per-square-foot range, and with renovations, he expects to increase rentals on these properties from their current $1.80-per-square-foot levels. Johnston expects to put about $1 million into renovating one of the buildings, at 2659 Townsgate Road, including landscaping and remodeling a part of the building, which was previously used as an executive suite facility. The second building, at 875 S. Westlake Blvd., will also get some landscaping updates. “We’re going to try to tie them more together,” said Morse of the two freestanding buildings, which sit side by side. Johnston plans to call the development Westlake Corporate Center. In addition, the company is set to begin construction on three office facilities in the coming year. – Construction is set to begin next month on a 20,000-square-foot building at Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks. – Work is scheduled to begin this fall on another 20,000-square-foot office building on the remaining land in the company’s Promenade Office Park in Westlake Village. – The company has begun seeking approvals for a 120,000-square-foot office project in Calabasas, with a planned completion date of summer 2002. The strong demand in the area has influenced Johnston’s decision to ratchet up its development plans, Morse added. At the same time, the company has sold the 42,000-square-foot Malibu Canyon Plaza, a retail and office complex at Agoura and Las Virgenes roads. “We built the Plaza in 1989 to provide restaurants and retail conveniences to our nearby office parks,” said Jeff Johnston, the company’s president. “The retail component no longer fits our portfolio.” Legacy Takes Burbank Site About three months after Regent Properties pulled the plug on plans to develop a $100 million mixed-use project in Burbank’s downtown core, another developer has stepped up to the plate. Legacy Partners is in exclusive negotiations with the city on a development agreement for commercial and retail project on a 3.4-acre site bounded by Olive Avenue, San Fernando Boulevard, Angeleno Avenue and Third Street. A year ago, Legacy had been on a short list of candidates to develop the site, but Regent beat it out. Regent later quashed its plans because it was unable to secure financing for a 300-room Marriott hotel. Legacy has submitted several different concepts, with varying amounts of office space, retail, restaurants, residential units and a hotel. “We need to work through the viability of each of the concepts,” said Bill Shubin, a partner at Legacy. “The key issue is, what is the likelihood of getting a hotel at the site?” He said he didn’t know why Regent was unable to do the deal, but that doesn’t mean Legacy will be unable to obtain financing. “We have a whole broad list of financial partners we have financed deals with in the past,” Shubin said. The property, once the site of the police department, is currently a mix of stores, a Masons’ lodge, parking lots and vacant land. Simi Sale Society Capital Group acquired a 30,000-square-foot office building in Simi Valley for $3.7 million. The building, a two-story, concrete and glass structure at 40 W. Cochran St., currently houses the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce. It is fully occupied. Gary DiMartino, a broker with Told Partners, represented the buyer and the seller, R.G. Harris Family Trust, in the transaction. Staff Reporter Elizabeth Hayes contributed to this column. Staff Reporter Shelly Garcia can be reached at (818) 710-2731, ext. 4316 or by e-mail at sgarcia@sfvbj.com.

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