If you’re wondering what life after corporate real estate might be like, check in with Pete Puzo. The former executive vice president and managing director of Grubb & Ellis’s Sherman Oaks office has reinvented himself since he was turned out of Grubb about one- and one-half years ago. Chief among the things taking up his time is a new appointment to the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity’s San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valley chapter. Puzo is going to be seeking out potential home sites for an ambitious effort underway to build between 50 and 100 homes a year for low-income families who otherwise could not afford home ownership. Puzo’s appointment comes as a newly elected president takes over at the chapter, Jack Shine, another real estate industry veteran whose company American Beauty, has been somewhat dormant of late. “We’ve been working for a number of years on a long term strategic plan,” said Shine, who has been involved with Habitat for Humanity since 1999 and was just elected president of the chapter board for the 2006 to 2007 year. “Most Habitat chapters build single digits (of homes) a year. As an old homebuilder, I’m used to building volume housing. The whole idea is to get these people out of the garages, and if we can do 50 to 100 homes a year, it begins to make a modicum of difference.” The effort is financed using a combination of public and private funding. In addition, companies and individuals in the field often contribute services and expertise. Such is the case with Puzo, who worked with Shine in the past as a leasing agent for First Financial Plaza in Encino. “We always stayed in touch, and he said, ‘instead of trading stocks and losing money, give us some of your time,'” Puzo recounted. So now Puzo has got a book full of potential sites he’s studying, mostly in Pacoima, Sylmar and other parts of the Northeast Valley and he’s doing some fundraising for the group Habitat’s annual Builders Ball will be held on May 5 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank. Puzo fills in the rest of his time with his resurrected real estate consulting practice, Brookhurst Co, a little golf and some trading for his personal portfolio. “I got hit in the head pretty hard with the Grubb thing,” said Puzo, who was well regarded by the brokers at Grubb. “I thought about going to another brokerage, but my head was never in it. So I think I hid back for a while, and said, ‘there’s got to be a better way.’ I think I may have found it.” North Hollywood Lease A theatrical storage and transportation company has leased a 135,200-square-foot industrial warehouse facility in North Hollywood. Scenic Expressions signed a 10-year deal at 11211 Vanowen St. for a total consideration of about $7.5 million. The location will be an addition to eight facilities the company now operates in L.A. and the Valley. The warehouse had been leased to various film-industry related companies intermittently since 2001, a reflection of the current market for industrial space. While the Valley vacancy rate for these types of properties is in the low single-digit range, many of the area’s industrial properties are too old to be useful for modern manufacturing operations. At the same time, many of the manufacturing tenants in the area are smaller companies that, as interest rates have remained low, are showing a decided preference for buying their facilities instead of renting them. “The building is an older building,” said Matt Dierckman, a broker with CB Richard Ellis, who, along with CB’s Greg Geraci and David Harding represented the tenant and the landlord, Shadrall Associates. “It wasn’t as functional for many users. It’s just tough to find a user that can take 135,000 square feet in that area.” Many of these types of older manufacturing facilities are being acquired and converted to different uses throughout the Valley. Scenic, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, currently occupies about 430,000-square-feet in the L.A. and the Valley. Another Delay in Santa Clarita An auction to sell the 1,000-acre property in Santa Clarita that once housed the former Bermite Powder Co. plant has been pushed back for a third time. The hearing date is now scheduled for May 2 in Phoenix. The property, a brownfield as a result of years of defense-related manufacturing on the site, has been idle for more than a decade, although it has gone into escrow several times in recent years. The court auction is part of a Chap. 11 proceeding. An initial date of February 8 was earlier moved to March 7. Two bidders are known to be interested in the site, including Cherokee Investment Partners and Suncal Companies. Valley Village Sale An 18-unit apartment building in Valley Village was sold for $2,495,000. The property, at 5510 Corteen Place, was acquired by the Sterman Co. Slavic Zlatkin and Warren Berzack, brokers with Investment Real Estate Associates, represented the seller, Nadlan Corteen Place Apts. LLC. The buyer was represented by Max Sharkansky, a broker with Marcus & Millichap. Women’s Group Elects Officers Gina Guarino, senior leasing agent with Douglas, Emmett and Co., has been installed as 2006 president of the Los Angeles chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women. Dani Evanson with Lexington Commercial Holdings Inc., was elected president-elect of the group.
Real Estate Executive Uses His Experience in New Ways