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Equity Office Daily Brief: December 30, 2015

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Daily Brief

December 30, 2015

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Commercial Property Firms Set for More Deals in New Year

Wall Street Journal

 

The world’s largest commercial real estate-services firms cranked their mergers and acquisitions engines into high gear in 2015 and will likely keep their feet on the gas well into the new year. CBRE Group Inc. and JLL, the largest and second-largest firms...

 


British firm plans to remake historic downtown L.A. building into a hip hotel

Los Angeles Times

 

A British hotel operator has purchased a historic building in downtown Los Angeles for $30 million and plans to transform the decaying structure into a hip, stylish hotel, according to JLL, the brokerage involved in the deal. The investment is the latest...

 


Cities in Final Drive to Keep Football Teams

Los Angeles Business Journal

 

Wednesday is the deadline for St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland to make their final pitches to the National Football League to keep their teams from moving to Los Angeles, but it appears only St. Louis will make a formal offer...

 


Some L.A. Hotel Rates Tripled for New Year's

Los Angeles Business Journal

 

If you’re interested in booking a hotel this New Year’s Eve, get ready to pay up. Hotel rates in Los Angeles are going to the penthouse level this Dec. 31, according to a survey by LosAngelesHotels.org. Hotels with vacancies remaining are charging nearly...

 



BLOG & ONLINE NEWS

 

Large Residential-Retail Complex Proposed in Koreatown

Urbanize LA

 

In what has become a common occurrence on the western edge of Koreatown, an auto-oriented shopping center is slated to give way for a dense mixed-use development. Last weeks, plans were filed with the City of Los Angeles for the construction of...

 


Compton Gets 1M SF of New Industrial

GlobeSt.com

 

COMPTON, CA—Trammell Crow Co. has broken ground on the Brickyard, a two-building, 1-million-square-foot industrial property in Compton, CA. The developer is building the property with its joint venture partner Principal Real Estate Investors. The property is scheduled to open in July...

 


Smart Money Heads to DTLB

GlobeSt.com

 

LOS ANGELES—Long Beach is the latest Los Angeles submarket to undergo a renaissance. With pressure from booming South Bay markets and the Orange County market, “smart money” is flooding into Downtown Long Beach. GlobeSt.com has reported several major office renovation projects...

 


Rexford Industrial Realty Buys Two SoCal Properties for $21 Mil

RENTV.com

 

Rexford Industrial Realty closed out 2015 with the acquisition of two industrial properties for a combined price of $21 mil. The acquisitions were funded with cash on hand and borrowings under the company’s line of credit, as well as the assumption...

 

FULL TEXT


Commercial Property Firms Set for More Deals in New Year

Wall Street Journal

 

The world’s largest commercial real estate-services firms cranked their mergers and acquisitions engines into high gear in 2015 and will likely keep their feet on the gas well into the new year.

CBRE Group Inc. and JLL, the largest and second-largest firms in the sector, respectively, have been on a binge buying brokerages and other commercial real estate that focus on geographic areas or niche businesses the acquirers need. Many of the deals have been in the $10 million to $100 million price range, but 2015 deals also included CBRE’s $1.47 billion acquisition of Johnson Controls Inc.’s facilities-management business Global Workplace Solutions.

Meanwhile, 2015 also saw the mother of all transactions in the industry, the $2 billion merger of Cushman & Wakefield and DTZ. The merged company, which took the Cushman & Wakefield name, is widely believed to be hoping to do an initial public offering in 2016 partly to put itself in a stronger position to compete against CBRE, JLL and others for acquisitions.

Deal appetite is intense partly because the industry is morphing. Commercial real-estate firms are trying to rely less on highly cyclical brokerage commissions and more on recurring fees paid by landlords, corporations and other clients for a wide range of consulting and management services.

Clients, meanwhile, are demanding that firms have a greater global reach and are able to tackle issues like integrating real estate with technology and using real estate to improve productivity and morale. “These are big trends,” said Brandon Dobell, an analyst with William Blair & Co. “The longer you are unable to make acquisitions or be aggressive in hiring people, the broader the divergence from your peers.”

The big firms also are buying because these are good times in the commercial real-estate business. Property sales activity and prices are at record levels in numerous markets. Tenants are expanding and leasing more space in countries that are enjoying economic recoveries.

The resulting fees, commissions and other revenues have sent shares of JLL and CBRE soaring and given them plenty of cash to go shopping for smaller firms. Meanwhile, owners of the target companies are recognizing that now would be a good time to sell because buyers are willing to pay high prices.

“It’s like when the house next to you sells for ‘X,’ you look at your wife and say we could get ‘X’ or better,” said Mitch Germain, an analyst with JMP Securities.

The commercial real-estate industry has been consolidating for more than 15 years as the business has become more global, but firms took a breather during the financial downturn. As the U.S. economy began recovering, the big firms picked up where they had left off.

CBRE’s acquisitions in 2015 included United Commercial Realty, a Dallas-based firm specializing in retail services; Environmental Services Inc. of Brookfield, Wis., which helps building owners and occupies manage energy usage; and PKF Consulting Inc., a Canadian consulting firm in the hospitality and tourism industries.

Just having an office in a country “doesn’t get it done for clients” these days, said Bob Sulentic, CBRE’s chief executive, in an interview earlier this month. “We’re now saying , if you go to Mumbai you know you’re going to have a full suite of products.”

In 2014 and the first nine months of 2015, JLL announced or closed 25 transactions with a total value of more than $500 million. Deals included the acquisitions of Oak Grove Capital, a provider of multifamily lending services; Corrigo Inc., a pioneer in cloud-based facilities management technology; and Big Red Rooster, a retail branding and design firm.

“What’s changing is the realization that you can use real estate more centrally as a tool for running your business,” said Colin Dyer, JLL’s CEO. “But to do so, you need professional advice that hasn’t typically existed within the average company not focused on real estate.”

Cushman & Wakefield had been an active buyer before its merger with DTZ, but slowed down since the closing in September. Management has been focusing since then on combining the two global firms.

Analysts point out that Cushman & Wakefield might be limited in its ability to make acquisitions because it has more debt than JLL and CBRE. Also, because it isn’t a public company, it doesn’t have listed stock as an added incentive to offer owners of targeted firms.

That’s one of the reasons an IPO makes sense. “Their ability to really invest in the business is going to be constrained by how much debt they have,” Mr. Dobell said. “Selling shares to the public and reducing that debt load would give them more balance sheet flexibility.”

A spokeswoman for Cushman said in a written statement that the firm has a strong balance sheet and “more than sufficient capital available through cash flows produced by the business.” She said that Cushman’s owners “have shown a strong desire to also pursue larger M&A through the provision of additional equity if we feel that is better and more efficient.”

-Write to Grant at .grant@wsj.com

British firm plans to remake historic downtown L.A. building into a hip hotel

Los Angeles Times

 

A British hotel operator has purchased a historic building in downtown Los Angeles for $30 million and plans to transform the decaying structure into a hip, stylish hotel, according to JLL, the brokerage involved in the deal.

The investment is the latest bet that the neighborhood's renaissance has created a place where tourists, not just business travelers eyeing a comfortable environment, want to lay down their heads. And with the money coming from overseas, it's a sign investors worldwide think so too.

"Downtown is thriving and international companies are all taking note," said Sara Lo, a senior manager specializing in the hospitality business at consulting and accounting firm Ernst & Young.

JLL said that Hoxton is now "underway on plans for the hotel," but did not provide further details. The operator has hotels in London and Amsterdam and plans to open another in New York and one in Paris next year, according to its website.

A representative from Hoxton owner Ennismore of London declined to comment.

Hoxton describes its brand as the "anti-hotel," where travelers find not only a bed, but "a place where people could eat, drink, work and play anytime of day." This year, British newspaper the Independent called Hoxton's Amsterdam outpost "an almost painfully trendy hotel in the Netherlands' hippest city."

The entry of a niche foreign hotel firm into downtown Los Angeles marks a stark reversal from decades past. The area's hotel market has long been dominated by corporate giants catering to business travelers, said Alan Reay of Atlas Hospitality Group. Tourists instead flocked to West Hollywood or beach communities such as Santa Monica and Marina del Rey.

But that's changing. A city center once derided as a ghost town after 5 is now home to a bustling restaurant and bar scene. Developers are increasingly looking to create smaller "lifestyle" boutique hotels — ones with uniquely designed rooms and high-end food and nightlife offerings.

A Hoxton hotel at 11th Street and Broadway would join several others nearby.

Just across the street, the 148-room Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel is planned in a vacant building constructed in the 1920s as the home of the Commercial Club of Southern California, a business booster group. Two blocks away is the popular Ace Hotel, a boutique that opened last year in the historic United Artists building and is credited with drawing more investment to the area.

Even big chains are getting into the mix.

A Hotel Indigo, a hip brand operated by InterContinental Hotels Group, is under construction as part of a Chinese company's $1-billion Metropolis development near Staples Center.

The downtown market is strong — with a 77% occupancy rate that outperforms the 75% average for the nation's top 25 markets, Lo said. From January through September, the average daily room rate downtown was $202, 6.7% higher than during the same period in 2014. In all, 4,000 hotel rooms are under construction or planned downtown, with a quarter of those boutique projects, Lo said.

"It seems like a week does not go by without a new hotel planned for downtown L.A.," said Reay, who estimated that the Hoxton hotel could fetch $250 to $300 a night.

Reay said he doesn't believe there's an "immediate threat" of overbuilding, but "that is always in the back of everyone's minds."

Ernest Wooden Jr., president of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, brushed off any concerns about overbuilding, saying occupancy rates have continued to rise in recent years even as more hotels have opened.

"The projects currently underway are critical to our long-term ability to attract both leisure and business travelers," he said in a statement.

Part of the reason for the optimism is an increasingly vibrant downtown, especially near 11th and Broadway — an area that until recently saw fewer investments than other parts of the urban core.

Now, several residential complexes are underway, including roughly 650 apartment units from luxury developer Geoffrey Palmer. New York developer Georgetown Co. announced in September a $40-million project to redevelop the historic Herald Examiner building into creative offices and ground-level restaurants.

"This is going to be the next corner — with everything that is happening here — the hottest corner in downtown L.A.," said Mike Condon Jr., a real estate broker with JLL who represented a group of private investors that sold 1060 S. Broadway to the British firm.

Designed in the Renaissance Revival style, the 1920s building set to become a Hoxton once housed the headquarters of what is today the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

But the 10-story building, like Broadway itself, fell on hard times. Condon said the upper-level offices have been empty since the mid- to late-1990s.

Graffiti lines the walls of the upper floors; paint is chipping; ceilings are crumbling. But amid downtown's revival, there are signs of change.

Several street-level shops, including a Salvadoran restaurant, have recently left in preparation for the upcoming redevelopment, Condon said.

Although Hoxton's owners declined to comment, a peek into the building's future could lie in previous plans.

Condon said the former owners, investors who formed a shell company, mulled several options, including a design for a roughly 150-bed hotel, a rooftop lounge and pool and a basement bar or night club. They closed the sale to the British hotel company Dec. 24, he said.

Downtown Los Angeles development consultant Hal Bastian said the decision to sell to an overseas buyer was telling.

"It shows that the international market has gotten the memo that DTLA is the most undervalued major city on planet Earth," he said.

-andrew.khouri@latimes.com

Cities in Final Drive to Keep Football Teams

Los Angeles Business Journal

 

Wednesday is the deadline for St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland to make their final pitches to the National Football League to keep their teams from moving to Los Angeles, but it appears only St. Louis will make a formal offer and Oakland will make an informal one.

There was no report Tuesday afternoon as to whether San Diego would make a pitch. Earlier reports suggested it would be difficult for the city to retain the Chargers.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland city officials indicated Monday that they would not present a plan. Instead, they would send a letter to league officials updating them on the city’s efforts to persuade the Raiders to stay in town.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that a task force convened by Missouri's governor pitched a plan to the National Football League to build a billion-dollar stadium along the Mississippi River to keep the Rams from leaving.

-Staff

Some L.A. Hotel Rates Tripled for New Year's

Los Angeles Business Journal

 

If you’re interested in booking a hotel this New Year’s Eve, get ready to pay up.

Hotel rates in Los Angeles are going to the penthouse level this Dec. 31, according to a survey by LosAngelesHotels.org.

Hotels with vacancies remaining are charging nearly 150 percent more than their average rates and some much more than that, according to Daniel Berger, a LosAngelesHotels.org spokesman.

“It’s getting more and more expensive on New Year’s Eve, in particular in downtown L.A.,” Berger said. “Three years ago, the least expensive three-star hotel room did cost $200. This year, you will have to spend $400.”

A room with a queen-sized bed at the Best Western Hollywood Hills normally costs $136 a night, but that price is being hiked to $626 this New Year’s Eve, the survey says.

The Ace Hotel Downtown L.A. is charging $676 for a room with a king-sized bed compared to its normal rate of $251 a night, according to LosAngelesHotels.org.

However, Pasadena has some of the highest increases with the Pasadena Rose Inn, for example, costing $690 the night of Dec. 31 for a room with twin beds compared with its regular rate of $102.

For more information about the survey, visit: http://www.losangeleshotels.org/press/new-years-eve-2015.html

-Karen Jordan

Large Residential-Retail Complex Proposed in Koreatown

Urbanize LA

 

In what has become a common occurrence on the western edge of Koreatown, an auto-oriented shopping center is slated to give way for a dense mixed-use development.

Last weeks, plans were filed with the City of Los Angeles for the construction of a new residential-retail complex on a 2.2-acre property at 3525 W. 8th Street.  According to a case filing from the Department of City Planning (LADCP), the project will consist of a seven-story structure featuring 367 residential units and an unspecified quantity of ground-level commercial floor area.

The property, bounded by 8th Street, Serrano and Oxford Avenues, is currently developed with a squat retail complex and an associated surface parking lot.  Both would likely be demolished in favor of the new mixed-use complex.

LADCP record's point to Rescore, a Florida-based real estate investment firm, as the project's developer.

Additional details about the proposed development are unavailable at this point in time.

The project joins several similar developments now underway to the northwest at Wilshire Boulevard's intersections with Hobart Avenue and Harvard Boulevard.

-Steven Sharp

Compton Gets 1M SF of New Industrial

GlobeSt.com

 

COMPTON, CA—Trammell Crow Co. has broken ground on the Brickyard, a two-building, 1-million-square-foot industrial property in Compton, CA. The developer is building the property with its joint venture partner Principal Real Estate Investors. The property is scheduled to open in July 2016.

“This is a rare and unique property situated in the epicenter of Los Angeles County, surrounded by more than 14.8 million people within a 50-mile radius. The Brickyard is the ideal site to develop a distribution/logistics or manufacturing center and bring economic growth to this area,” Brad Cox, senior managing director with Trammell Crow Co., tells GlobeSt.com. “We are excited to be working with Mayor Aja Brown and Councilmember Janna Zurita on this industrial opportunity in Compton.”

The larger of the two buildings will be 525,000-square-feet with 88 dock high doors with a cross dock configuration, 270 parking spaces, and 185-to-240-foot full concrete yard. The second, smaller building is still a large big box at 481,000-square-feet with 111 dock high doors with a cross dock configuration, 307 parking spaces, and a 185-foot full concrete yard. Both buildings will also include 10,000 square feet of office space and will have class-A features, like 36-foot clear heights and will be LEED Gold certified, in addition to other features.

Although Compton isn’t typically known as a prime industrial market, its natural location near LAX and the ports makes a natural spot for industrial users. The Brickyard in particular will be located seven miles from LAX and 10 miles from the ports. As a result, neighboring markets have an industrial vacancy rate of less than 2%, and the developers expect the market will quickly absorb the additional and highly in demand space.

-Kelsi Maree Borland

Smart Money Heads to DTLB

GlobeSt.com

 

LOS ANGELES—Long Beach is the latest Los Angeles submarket to undergo a renaissance. With pressure from booming South Bay markets and the Orange County market, “smart money” is flooding into Downtown Long Beach. GlobeSt.com has reported several major office renovation projects and residential development projects in the market, and as a result, we sat down with Long Beach market experts Greg Gill, president of Lee & Associates Long Beach office, and Jeff Coburn, a principal in Lee & Associates Long Beach office, to talk about the evolution of the Long Beach market.

“Pressure is coming down the coast from areas that before were not as desirable,” Gill tells GlobeSt.com. “You have Inglewood now picking up people out of West L.A. and looking to buy and occupy, and you’ve got Westchester and all of the sleepy hollow area around LAX. These markets were C-grade industrial and now are being acquired by savvy office investors and that has pushed people over to the Hawthorne area. That has had a very positive affect on Long Beach.” Gill adds that additional pressure from Orange County is creating a confluence of demand in Long Beach. “We are seeing pressure pushing down from the South Bay and up from the Orange County market,” he says.

As a result of this pressure from the north and south, investors, both residential and office, are finding value-add opportunities in the submarket, where rents are still at a significant discount to the surrounding markets. For example, El Segundo—which many still consider a burgeoning market—is getting rents in the high $2 per square foot rang, while Long Beach is capturing $2 per square foot rents. Coburn notes that price increased significantly in only the last six months. “We saw the class-A properties really come up first, but over the last year, the class-B buildings have really climbed up as well,” he says. “Everyone is chasing the creative office buzz right now. In the last six months especially, we have seen a big jump in the asking price on all of these class-B buildings.”

The overspill of demand from the South Bay and Orange County isn’t the only driving factor in the Long Beach market. The ports are also driving investor interest, because there is and always will be a natural job center and a need for amenities. “You have the largest ports in the US and the fifth largest in the world, and you have 300 million square feet of industrial product in the South Bay area,” says Gill. “That is bigger than Seattle/Tacoma combined. This is one of the most highly coveted industrial markets in the world. All of the big players are here. That bodes well for all that is going on in Long Beach.”

Currently, the “smart money” is heading to the Downtown market. “There is no downtown for the vibrant industrial market,” explains Gill. “If you are going to have lunch with the president of a company, you are going to go to Downtown Long Beach, because that is where the amenities are.

This isn’t the first time that Long Beach has seen an influx of investor interest. Before the downturn, nearly a decade ago, the market saw a craze of new developments. “Now, we are seeing a run up again. The last go around, we saw more new construction, and now we are seeing more new development,” says Coburn.

Many of the older B- and C-class office is now being converted into residential product as well, often with a retail component. Gill and Coburn expect the momentum in the market to continue throughout 2016 and beyond.

-Kelsi Maree Borland

Rexford Industrial Realty Buys Two SoCal Properties for $21 Mil

RENTV.com

 

Rexford Industrial Realty closed out 2015 with the acquisition of two industrial properties for a combined price of $21 mil. The acquisitions were funded with cash on hand and borrowings under the company’s line of credit, as well as the assumption of a $9.9 mil first mortgage loan secured by one of the properties.

After completing value-add functional and deferred maintenance renovations, the company expects both properties to produce above-market stabilized yields and to add substantial value to the firm’s portfolio. With these acquisitions, Rexford has added 20 high-quality investments representing 2 msf to its portfolio over the course of 2015.

In December, Rexford Industrial acquired 1065 E. Walnut St in Carson for $16.7 mil, or $97/sf. As a part of the acquisition, Rexford assumed a $9.9 mil first mortgage loan, which carries a 4.55% interest rate and matures in 2019.

The property is comprised of one 28’–30’ clear height cold storage industrial building, containing 172.4k sf on 7.85 acres of land. The building is 100% leased under new five-year lease extensions to two long-term tenants with co-terminus leases, providing future flexibility for renovation and potential re-tenanting of the building into a traditional single-tenant dock-high distribution facility.

Rexford has also assumed responsibility for certain tenant improvement allowances under the new lease terms as well as other deferred maintenance. According to CBRE, the vacancy rate in the 218 msf Los Angeles South Bay submarket was 0.8% at the end of the third quarter 2015.

In the other deal, Rexford acquired 12247 Lakeland Rd in Santa Fe Springs for $4.3 mil ($171/sf). 12247 The property is comprised of one single-tenant industrial building containing 24.9k sf on 2.52 acres of land, which includes 50k sf of excess paved land.

Based upon the overall land area, the purchase price equates to approximately land value for the property. The building, acquired from a private seller, is vacant with the excess paved land leased through March 2016.

The company’s strategy includes the value-add resolving of deferred maintenance and functional obsolescence to deliver high-quality, high-demand industrial space with above standard dock-high loading and highly-sought-after excess land. In addition, the company owns the adjacent 2.85-acre asset at 10950 Norwalk Blvd, which provides future optionality to consolidate and redevelop the two properties at a later time.

According to CBRE, the vacancy rate in the 109 msf Los Angeles Mid Counties submarket was 0.8% at the end of the third quarter 2015.

-Staff

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