What’s a landlord to do with a vacant industrial building that’s no longer industrial? Take it back to its roots. That strategy recently succeeded at a 88,000-square-foot Newbury Park property that had been sitting empty since Amgen Inc. moved out three years ago. The biopharmaceutical firm had done a 100 percent office build-out at the flex/industrial space at 2300 Corporate Center Drive, transforming it from distribution and manufacturing to office space during its more than five years on site. But once Amgen left, the building languished. A 2013 plan to turn it into an indoor swap meet got swatted down by the Thousand Oaks City Council after objections from local landlords. (Manny Asadurian, the Conejo Valley developer who proposed the swap meet, eventually found a home for his market at 709 Science Drive in Moorpark.) Patrick DuRoss, a broker in Colliers International’s Encino office, got the listing about a year ago from landlord First Industrial Realty Trust Inc., a Chicago REIT that bought the 5.4-acre property in 2008. He knew that finding an office tenant was going to be tough. Although it is falling, the office vacancy in Conejo is still at nearly 15 percent, while the industrial vacancy rate is less than 3 percent, according to data from Colliers. “Office users in Conejo Valley want to be east of (Westlake Boulevard) in Agoura Hills,” DuRoss said. Colliers and First Industrial decided to try repositioning the property, highlighting its industrial potential. They removed drop ceilings to showcase the 24-foot, warehouse-ready clear heights and added a loading door to demonstrate the building’s flexible functionality. They also updated their marketing approach and materials, said John DeGrinis, Colliers senior executive vice president, who works in the Encino office with DuRoss. “When a building like this hasn’t attracted the right user, you have to think outside the box,” he said. The plan worked, quickly generating interest in the building. Last month it was purchased for $9.89 million by a Hong Kong pharmaceutical company in an all-cash transaction that pencils out to roughly $112 a square foot. The buyer, Bocom Pharmaceutical Co., had been looking for a California headquarters for several years but were focused on Orange County, DuRoss said. They were attracted to Newbury Park for its biotech corridor and employee base. The company makes dietary supplements. Christy Ng, director of Topco Group in Los Angeles, is the Chinese firm’s local representative. She said she could not comment on when operations would get underway, but thought the company planned some additional work on the property before moving in. Eventually, the firm expects to employ about 100 people in the U.S., DuRoss said. Housing Innovation A Woodland Hills firm is set to become one of the first developers in the country to take advantage of a new federal program that helps disabled adults move off the streets and out of institutions into their own apartments. InSite Development, which has revitalized much of the central business district in Lancaster, has earmarked 37 units at its Essex Apartments 44916 N. 10th St. West in Lancaster for recipients of new rent subsidies provided by HUD 811, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In February, California became the first state in the nation to implement the program. It has a statewide budget of $12 million this year to move poor and disabled people who are currently warehoused in nursing homes into supportive, independent housing. “Thousands of Medi-Cal beneficiaries live in institutional settings, primarily because they lack support for a transition to independent community living or they can’t access affordable housing,” said Mari Cantwell, chief deputy director of the California Department of Health Care Services, which is partnering with HUD on the program. Three Northern California developers are taking part to date; the Essex Apartments is the first Southern California project to sign on. Wah Chen, cofounder of InSite, said the Essex is a former hotel that the firm is renovating into 150 affordable studio units. Social services, such as a free health clinic and adult day care program, will be housed on site. “This is a case of kismet, where luck about the availability of 811 funds met with our preparation at Essex Apartments to provide meaningful housing and hope for 18- to 62-year-old Medicaid recipients,” Chen said in an email. InSite expects to begin renting the 37 units late this month. The 811 subsidy will keep rents at no more than 30 percent of household income for 20 years, with maximum rent not to exceed $747 a month. Sherman Oaks home health care provider Libertana will help refer eligible tenants to the program. Staff reporter Karen E. Klein can be reached at (818) 316-3123 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.