JOYZELLE DAVIS Burbank’s Media District has made news in the past with proposed new office developments and its effectively non-existent vacancy rate. But until last month, acquisition activity in the entertainment industry’s corporate epicenter had been notably quiet. That changed with such big October deals as the purchase of the 2600 West Olive Building by CarrAmerica Realty Corp., a Washington, D.C.-based real estate investment trust, for about $26 million, according to real estate sources. The 10-story, 145,000-square-foot building is 100 percent leased, with Walt Disney Co. leading its tenant roster. This marks CarrAmerica’s first purchase in the Tri-Cities office market, according to Dwight Merriman, the company’s vice president for the Southern California region. CarrAmerica became interested in the property because it’s within walking distance of Disney’s world headquarters and “it has a decent number of amenities for the Burbank market,” Merriman said. Meanwhile, Westwood-based investment group Douglas Emmett Realty Advisors recently purchased the office building at 2901 Alameda Ave., located across the NBC Studios lot from Ford Motor Credit. Sources close to the deal say the 110,000-square-foot building went for about $22 million. That building is also 100 percent leased, with the post-production company 4 Media Corp. taking up the bulk of the space. Considering the scant acquisition activity in the Media District, there are not any recent sales to use as a benchmark for these deals, said Scott Blake, first vice president of California Federal Bank’s commercial real estate division. He noted, however, that the 2901 Alameda building was going to be sold last year for about $17 million, but that deal fell out of escrow and the building returned to market. One year later, it sold for 30 percent more. Larry Rappoport, a principal with Lee & Associates in Sherman Oaks who represented the seller in the 2600 West Olive transaction, said Media District property owners had been reluctant to sell their properties during the past year. But as the continued growth in the entertainment industry has propelled the demand for new office space, prices for Burbank office buildings have risen and more owners are willing to consider selling at a “fair price or what some might say is more than a fair price,” Rappoport said. Elsewhere in Burbank The M. David Paul Development Co. began construction on the second phase of its Media Studios North office project, which is located on a 19-acre site adjacent to the Burbank Airport. Now Phoenix-based Vestar Development Co. is moving ahead with its plans to develop a project called Burbank Empire Center in the same neighborhood. Vestar announced the selection of a team led by Kilroy Realty to develop the office portion of Vestar’s site. The 101-acre site, which formerly housed the Lockheed Corp. manufacturing facilities, is to include retail as well as office development. Kilroy, a real estate investment trust based in El Segundo, will develop the office property in partnership with Orange County-based Koll Real Estate Group. An environmental impact report is being prepared for the project and should be ready for circulation by early next year, according to a Vestar spokesman. The proposed Empire Center is designed ultimately to have about 1.8 million square feet of buildings, including about 600,000 square feet of retail space, 150,000 square feet of auto dealerships and 1 million square feet of offices. The cost of the entire office and retail portions of the development is estimated to be $250 million. The Burbank Airport-area office market isn’t quite as tight as the Media District, although its single-digit vacancy rates are among the lowest in the county. The airport market hasn’t attracted large corporate users in the past, but that may change as Vestar’s and M. David Paul’s new buildings enter the market, some brokers say. Before the end of the decade, companies will have several opportunities to lease large blocks of contiguous space in Burbank which hasn’t been possible for most of the decade. The J.H. Snyder Co.’s almost 600,000-square-foot Burbank Media Center, which is scheduled to break ground this month, is asking for rents comparable to its Media District neighbors monthly rates around $3 per square foot. By comparison, the M. David Paul project is asking for rents of about $2.45 per square foot. More development news Senior Systems Technology Inc. broke ground last month on its 130,000-square-foot build-to-suit headquarters in Palmdale. The company has not yet decided what it will do with its 55,000-square-foot office at 20150 Sunburst St. in Chatsworth, where it’s currently housed. Dennis Marciniak, a broker with Daum Commercial Real Estate Services who represented Senior Systems when it bought the land from the city of Palmdale, said the size of the company’s staff has expanded so rapidly that it is considering using its Chatsworth building as a regional office. Residential action Los Angeles-based residential development company Greystone Homes bought Burbank-based West Venture Development Co. for roughly $20 million, adding five active projects and the option to develop about 1,900 lots in Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire to its portfolio. The acquisition positions Greystone Homes in some rebounding markets such as Palmdale and Valencia where it does not currently have a presence. The company will continue to operate under the West Venture name. The deal comes as Greystone is in the process of being acquired by Miami-based Lennar Corp. In more news on the home front, the number of existing single-family homes sold in the San Fernando Valley in September rose for the fifth consecutive month. The Southland Regional Association of Realtors reports that total Valley home resales from January through September are already 7.3 percent ahead of the like period of 1996, raising the possibility that 1997 will end as the best year for Valley home resales since 1987. September single-family existing home sales totaled 1,084, up more than 26 percent from September 1996. September also marked the fifth consecutive month that Valley home resales topped 1,000, a level of resale activity that has not occurred since 1989.