Still No Takers for Ventura Boulevard Mixed-Use Project REAL ESTATE By Shelly Garcia You might think buyers would line up for a project that’s already entitled, especially in L.A. where getting approval for building, especially when it’s controversial, is so difficult. But six months after the owners of the first-ever residential project to be entitled on Ventura Boulevard was put up for sale, there is still no buyer in sight. Well, no firm buyer at least. The property has been in escrow twice since it was put on the market last October. And many more potential buyers have looked at the site, 1.7 acres in Encino entitled for a 73,000-square-foot development with up to 125 apartment units and 16,000 square feet of commercial space. The biggest impediment, according to some of the developers who have looked at the site (and even bid on it) is what could turn out to be an extremely expensive hill that would have to be cut back and held with a retaining wall. As one developer put it, “It’s one big mother of a wall.” The hill would make developing the site so complex, that some developers have said it’s virtually impossible to estimate the potential cost. Added to a $12.75-million asking price for the property, there’s been a decided lack of enthusiasm on the part of potential buyers. Stephen Lampe, an investment specialist at Marcus & Millichap who is marketing the property, said he is confident that the right buyer will come to the table. “I personally think the property is priced very fairly,” Lampe said. “It’s priced very well as an apartment complex and even more favorably from a condominium development standpoint. The thing we’ve had is the buyers coming to the table have been trying to reinvent the wheel with respect to changing or modifying the project.” Oddly enough, some of those who have looked at the project seriously so far are interested in building something other than what it’s entitled for. That’s ironic considering that it took more than two years for the owners, Gold Mountain Enterprises LLC in Calabasas, to push the project through the approval process as a residential complex. The idea of building apartments on Ventura Boulevard is brand new, and city officials were pressured by the community, single-family home owners who live just behind Ventura Boulevard, that vehemently opposed the idea. What ultimately convinced the city was the fact that Ventura Boulevard is a transportation corridor, and they hoped that by locating apartments in walking distance of shops and public transportation, they could take a small step toward creating a network of urban villages, neighborhoods that would be less reliant on the cars that threaten to bring the city to a standstill. Not to mention that the city needs housing, and Ventura Boulevard could become a premier address in the Valley. Westlake North Sold Westlake North Business Park, an office development completed just two-and-a-half years ago, has been sold to a pension fund for an estimated $250 a square foot. The property, which includes two buildings totaling 198,558 square feet at 30699 Russell Ranch Road and 30721 Russell Ranch Road, was acquired about five years ago by Investment Development Services Inc. David Mgrublian, CEO of IDS, said the buildings were put on the market in February. “With class A, well built office buildings there’s not a lot to analyze,” he said. “If you’ve got a long term belief in the Conejo Valley, it’s a great investment.” Mgrublian declined to discuss the purchase price, but he pointed out that the property, which has just under a 10 percent vacancy rate, was especially attractive to investors. “It’s got a tenant roster people will kill for,” he said. Among the tenants: State Farm, Countrywide Financial Corp., Verizon, Allied Interstate Inc., Agilent Technologies and Shea Homes. Kevin Shannon, Scott Schumacher, Michael Moore, Tom Festa and Jim Lindvall, all with Grubb & Ellis, represented IDS and the buyer, TIAA-CREF. North Hollywood Sale An 87,722-square-foot office building in North Hollywood has been sold for $8.5 million. The property, at 6400 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, was sold to Milan Properties, in that company’s first office building acquisition in the local area. Milan is based in Orange County. The building has a 50 percent vacancy rate, according to Trevor Belden, a broker with Lee & Associates who represented the seller, Alex Brown Realty, and will be marketing the property. Action at Spectrum Power Partners, a transportation and storage company, has leased an 80,900-square-foot industrial building at Conejo Spectrum Business Park. The 10-year lease at 1471 Lawrence Drive in Thousand Oaks is valued at $4.5 million. John DeGrinis and Roger Beck, both with Colliers Seeley International, represented the tenant. The landlord, Conejo Spectrum Building Associates, was represented by Ken Ashen and Nick Gregg at CB Richard Ellis and by Investment Development Services, the developer. Van Nuys Development Sares-Regis Group is redeveloping the former BorgWarner manufacturing facility in Van Nuys with plans to transform the eight-and a-half-acre property into a condominium industrial park. Sares-Regis is planning to build 23 buildings ranging in size from 4,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet, and market to owner-users. SBA lenders offer 90 percent financing to qualified buyers of these types of properties. As with residential condominiums, the owners in the complex, located at 7500 Tyrone Ave., would share the cost of maintenance and landscaping at the business park through a dues system. Brett Warner a broker at Lee & Associates who is marketing the property along with Larry Twomey, Dean Reilly and Todd Snyder, said the prices for the units, most of which will be free-standing, have not yet been set. Senior reporter Shelly Garcia can be reached at (818)316-3123 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.