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Equity Office Daily Brief: March 30, 2016

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Daily Brief

March 30, 2016

  EquilityOffice

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How an Aging Chinatown Mall Became a Hipster Food Haven

Los Angeles Downtown News

 

From the street, Far East Plaza looks like many of Chinatown’s older buildings. Its faded red awnings sport a fine layer of dust and grime, and the two-story 1979 structure hasn’t quite aged with grace — its Chinese-styled roofline, with curving...

 


NGKF brings first business-industrial park to Temecula Valley in eight years

Valley News

 

ONTARIO – Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a commercial real estate advisory firm, announced March 8, it has been selected to market the first new ground-up industrial development in Lake for the Temecula and Lake Elsinore valleys in eight years.  Construction is now underway for...

 



BLOG & ONLINE NEWS

 

The Top 7 Venture Capital Investors In Real Estate Tech

Bisnow

 

Real estate tech firms seem to be popping up everywhere, as the slow-to-adapt industry begins to warm to the idea of merging tech and property. But who is providing the cash for these startups? CBInsights put together this sweet infographic and...

 


Premier Business Centers Inks Deal for New Calabasas Executive Suites Location

RENTV.com

 

Premier Business Centers, the big, national operator of executive suites and office centers in the U.S., inked a 10-year lease for a 14.5k sf center in Calabasas, an upscale community at the border of the San Fernando Valley and the Conejo...

 


South Bay Office Campus Sells in $25 Mil Transaction

RENTV.com

 

Torrance Pointe, a three-building, 145.3k sf low-rise office campus in Torrance, traded hands in a $25.46 mil ($175/sf) transaction. The asset was acquired by Montana Avenue Capital Partners in an all-cash deal. Torrance Pointe is located at 21041, 21061 and 21081 S....

 


Second Culver City TOD Unwraps Itself

Urbanize LA

 

With its early 2016 opening date looming, exterior work is now nearing completion on Access Culver City, a residential-retail complex at the Expo Line's Culver City Station. The project, developed by South Carolina-based Greystar Real Estate Partners, consists of a five-story building...

 

FULL TEXT


How an Aging Chinatown Mall Became a Hipster Food Haven

Los Angeles Downtown News

 

From the street, Far East Plaza looks like many of Chinatown’s older buildings. Its faded red awnings sport a fine layer of dust and grime, and the two-story 1979 structure hasn’t quite aged with grace — its Chinese-styled roofline, with curving green shingles and chunks of blocky red adornments, look like tacked-on afterthoughts to a regular concrete building.

Over the past few years, however, the complex at 727 N. Broadway has become a bona-fide culinary destination. Its meld of old and new tenants recalls the changes at Grand Central Market, but at a slower pace.

The roster at the complex still includes traditional establishments such as the noodle house Kim Chuy, Ten Ren’s Tea Time, and the two-floor market Wing Hop Fung Ginseng and China Products Center.

The first new-school operator to make a splash at Far East Plaza was Kogi BBQ truck mastermind Roy Choi, who opened his Asian-fusion bowl eatery Chego in May 2013. Ten months later later came the newfangled ice cream business Scoops.

They were followed by lauded chef Andy Ricker’s Thai noodle shop Pok Pok Phat Thai, which opened in 2014. Nearly ready to debut is Howlin’ Ray’s, from Johnny Zone and Amanda Chapman, the duo behind the hyped Nashville hot chicken truck of the same name.

No one is making a bigger play, however, than Alvin Cailan. When he needed a follow-up to his mega-smash Eggslut at Grand Central Market, he looked at Far East Plaza, opening Ramen Champ in late 2014 (which he has since sold). Sensing momentum, Cailan tripled-down on the Chinatown plaza, debuting Unit 120 — an ambitious incubator restaurant where local and national chefs can conduct temporary runs of untested menus — and the attached fast-casual Filipino restaurant Amboy, which debuted in January.

Cailan recalled that the complex once housed notable restaurants such as Mandarin Deli, Pho 79 and Sam Woo Barbecue, which all left and became San Gabriel Valley institutions. It’s time to honor that legacy with a new batch of small businesses, he said.

“The original history of Far East Plaza is that every single unit was a food place. The sign in front still says ‘Food Center,’” Cailan said. “We’re inspired by that sign from decades ago to make this into an amazing food center, and an L.A. institution, again.”

The Yu Effect

Choi, the chef and restaurateur who has become perhaps L.A.’s most iconoclastic dining ambassador, brought Chego to Far East Plaza after lease renewal talks broke down at a sleepy Palms strip mall.

When Ricker began poking around in Los Angeles, it was Choi who directed him to Chinatown (Ricker also has the large Pok Pok L.A., with hundreds of seats, three blocks away at Mandarin Plaza). Cailan and Zone also cited Choi as a trendsetter.

“The more the merrier. That was why we set up shop,” Choi said in an email. “Good to see the dream come true and much love to our neighbors.”

There’s another thing the restaurateurs have in common: George Yu, who recruited Choi in the first place. Yu has a double role in the community, serving as executive director of the Chinatown Business Improvement District, and as vice president of Far East Plaza owner Macco Investments Corp., where he oversees leasing.

Yu declined multiple phone and email interview requests for this story.

Far East Plaza tenants and area brokers credit Yu for recruiting exciting small business owners to the complex, and building some critical mass in a place that long lacked attention and traffic.

“George is, well, I hate to use the word ‘visionary,’ because that sounds pretentious, but George is a leader who genuinely cares about Chinatown,” Ricker said. “He’s clearly not doing it for the rent money. He believes that the future of Chinatown is young people coming in and making a stand.”

Yu is more than a big-picture manager, said Zone.

“George has been helping with building out the restaurant and advice on that end because he used to be a contractor, so he’s got a lot of knowledge,” Zone remarked. “He’s taken on the stresses of opening a new restaurant while also being the most supportive and understanding of what we’re trying to do. He’s done like 40% of our work here.”

Emerging Market

Another lure for restaurant owners? Affordable rents.

In general, Chinatown offers rates that are significantly lower than most Downtown sub-markets. Where a tenant might pay $4.50-$5.50 per square foot in the Central Business District (along the Seventh Street corridor from Figueroa to Olive streets, for instance), Chinatown averages around $3.75-$4, said Derrick Moore, a principal with brokerage firm Avison Young.

“You’re not going to Far East for the architecture, that’s for sure,” Moore said. “Because of Yu and these new tenants, Far East Plaza is now a destination project in the works.”

The new tenants say that manageable rents and future potential drew their attention, but for many it was the romance of Chinatown’s history and culture that sealed the deal. Zone noted the “raw coolness” of seeing roasted ducks hanging by their necks in windows and Chinese cooks smoking cigarettes outside of kitchens (“It reminded me of Nashville,” he said). Isa Fabro, a Downtown pastry chef who collaborated at Cailan’s Unit 120 and has been selling her donut-like “malas” at Far East Plaza, added that Chinatown has an “egalitarian” feel.

“I was working in a lot of places that were expensive, for special occasions. But now I’m making food that the people I grew up with could afford,” Fabro said. “Chinatown supports that vibe and pricing approach. It’s still a fringe neighborhood compared to central Downtown.”

New restaurants have sprouted elsewhere in Chinatown, with highlights such as Little Jewel of New Orleans, Burgerlords and Lobsta Shack. Established restaurateur Leonard Chan, meanwhile, is building a hipster food court of his own on the ground floor of the Jia Apartments, which opened in 2014.

Yet there has never been a lineup as concentrated as the one in Far East Plaza. Older tenants are paying attention — and, for now, reporting mixed reactions.

Mary Lam, the owner of Mary’s Beauty Salon at the western entrance of Far East Plaza, is buoyed by the number of people perusing the plaza. The salon has been there for 28 years, and Lam recalled how sleepy it felt even a decade ago.

“I really like seeing so many people come and go. Different kinds of people now, too. Young and white, sure, but older and everything else,” she said. “Business used to be slower. I think the future will be good.”

Kelvin Guan, a four-year employee of Ten Ren’s Tea Time, had a more measured assessment, and said that while there are more visitors, that hasn’t translated to significant increases in business. He added that there are other improvements to be made in the complex.

“The building is doing a good job with security, but it’s also not enough. We still see homeless people who are bothering the customers and people by the entrance. It can be bad for business,” Guan said.

In one way, this could prefigure another moment of change for Chinatown. Though it still is dominated by traditional business and hosts cultural events, the community long ago lost its status as Los Angeles’ center of Chinese culinary life to the San Gabriel Valley.

And while Downtown’s housing boom has mostly eluded Chinatown so far, the nearly complete Blossom Plaza and projects such as the proposed College Station mega-development could bring a major demographic shift to the neighborhood.

Yu in the past expressed concern that Chinatown will turn into a nostalgic “museum” if left alone. The flipside, Cailan said, is supporting independent businesses and preventing Chinatown from becoming new but generic.

“We always have conversations with George about what some operators’ true intentions are,” Cailan said. “Are they true to themselves and putting in work, or are they businessmen who want the next Pinkberry?”

There remain longer-term trends at play. The evolution of Chinatown’s dining and business landscape will prove critical to its appeal as a regional, not just local, destination, Avison Young’s Moore said. Chinatown will thrive if there are “multiple Far East Plazas” in the community, all with an intriguing blend of old and new, he added.

Many eyes, and stomachs, are waiting to see what happens.

-Eddie Kim

NGKF brings first business-industrial park to Temecula Valley in eight years

Valley News

 

ONTARIO – Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a commercial real estate advisory firm, announced March 8, it has been selected to market the first new ground-up industrial development in Lake for the Temecula and Lake Elsinore valleys in eight years. 

Construction is now underway for Big Yards Industrial Park at Lake Elsinore. The 162,903-square-foot industrial park will encompass eight free-standing buildings available for sale or lease, ranging in size from 9,794 to 57,368-square-feet. Located at 29370 – 29415 Hunco Way in Lake Elsinore. The buildings are expected to be completed by summer 2016. 

NGKF Executive Managing Director Randy Lockhart and Associate Jeff Kalmikov are representing the developer, Temecula-based Southern California Investors (SCI).  SCI is a real estate development and investment company that has built more than a dozen commercial and industrial developments in southwest Riverside County. 

“This is a significant opportunity for Lake Elsinore,” said Steve Rawlings, partner, SCI. “The market is already responding well to the opportunity for new product.” 

In its Inland Empire Fourth Quarter 2015 Industrial Market Report, NGKF reported it marked the 25th straight quarter of net occupancy gains for the Inland Empire industrial market, as more than three million- square-feet was absorbed. 

“This new industrial project is indicative of the ongoing strength of the Inland Empire market,” Lockhart shared.

“Buyers and tenants continue to demonstrate a substantial appetite for space. That’s why Big Yards Industrial Park is so important. The southern Inland Empire market is in the path of progress as buyers and tenants continue to move into the region seeking state-of-the-art buildings and land opportunities that are not available in coastal L.A. and Orange County markets.”

NGKF has already seen a great deal of interest in the sites, with three buildings in escrow to owner/users and investors,” Lockhart continued. 

The park’s buildings feature large oversized yards, two story offices, truck well and ground level loading doors with 24 to 28-foot minimum clear heights. 

The industrial park is situated at the 15 freeway and 74 Ortega Highway Interchange. It is centrally located off the 15 freeway corridor. The U.S. Census bureau reported that Lake Elsinore is the fastest growing city with over 50,000 residences in California. Looking ahead, population growth continues to be a demand driver for the Inland Empire. According to NGKF, the Inland Empire is expected to remain the fastest-growing nonfarm job market in Southern California well into 2016. 

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank is one of the world’s leading commercial real estate advisory firms. Together with London-based partner Knight Frank and independently owned offices, NGKF’s 12,800 professionals operate from more than 370 offices in established and emerging property markets on six continents.

-Staff

The Top 7 Venture Capital Investors In Real Estate Tech

Bisnow

 

Real estate tech firms seem to be popping up everywhere, as the slow-to-adapt industry begins to warm to the idea of merging tech and property. But who is providing the cash for these startups? CBInsights put together this sweet infographic and data on the most active VC investors in real estate tech—check out Bisnow's breakdown of them here.

500 Startups

Founded: 2010 Real Estate Tech Firms: CompStak, Viva Real, HomeLight, 99.co, ZipMatch, Reesio, Storefront, 42Floors, Lenda, Lovely, Happy Inspector 500 Startups is the most active investor on the list, as it made a bunch of early-stage investments in 2015, taking bets on mortgage platform Lenda and real estate agent matching service HomeLight. And 500 Startups isn't just a name—it has actually invested in over 500 companies.

Thrive Capital

Founded: 2009 Real Estate Tech Firms: Cadre, Open Door Labs, Hightower, Honest Buildings, Blend Labs, Compass, 42 Floors Founded by entrepreneur Josh Kushner (pictured), Thrive has invested in a rage of companies as the second-most active investor on the list. Josh has more than just stakes in tech companies, he founded Cadre, a real estate tech startup which just raised $50M in a January Series B funding round.

Frontier Digital Ventures

Founded: 2014 Real Estate Tech Firms: meQasa, Property-Maputo, iMyanmar-house, Property-finder.ae, Zameen, VivaReal This Malaysia-based firm has on its investment list the Latin American-focused listing service VivaReal. Like the name says, it focuses on frontier markets and "the opportunity they offer to self-starting entrepreneurs to become effective game changers."

SV Angel

Founded: 2009 Real Estate Tech Firms: Open Door Labs, Storefront, Blend Labs, My VR, 42Floors, Lovely San Francisco-based seed fund SV Angel was founded by Ron Conway (pictured) in 2009. The VC firm gives seed investment and advice to early-stage companies focused on Internet-based software.

BoxGroup

Founded: 2009 Real Estate Tech Firms: Hightower, Storefront, Matterport, 42Floors, Lovely This NYC-based firm focuses on early-stage investments in the gateway markets of NYC, S.F. and LA. Managing partner and investment samurai David Tisch (pictured) also co-founded TechStars NYC, a mentor-driven startup accelerator.

DCM Ventures

Founded: 1996 Real Estate Tech Firms: Roomi, Asset Avenue, Matterport, Meiaoju, RealScout DCM manages seven funds that total over $2B, and has put its backing behind 200 technology companies across the US and Asia. DCM also provides hands-on operational guidance through offices in Silicon Valley, Beijing and Tokyo.

Accel Partners

Real Estate Tech Firms: Amitree, Lease-Accelerator, CommonFloor, PropTiger, HMS InfoTech This early- and growth-stage VC firm is the oldest on the list, dating way back to 1983 (the Stone Age, essentially). In addition to its real estate tech firms, Accel also has backed startups like Dropbox, Etsy, Slack, Spotify, Vox and Facebook.-Martin Drake

Premier Business Centers Inks Deal for New Calabasas Executive Suites Location

RENTV.com

 

Premier Business Centers, the big, national operator of executive suites and office centers in the U.S., inked a 10-year lease for a 14.5k sf center in Calabasas, an upscale community at the border of the San Fernando Valley and the Conejo Valley. The new center is located at at 26575 W. Agoura Rd, west of Las Virgenes Rd, adjacent to the south side of the 101 Fwy.

The agreement provides Premier Business Centers with the opportunity for freeway visibility and building top signage. It is Premier’s first location in the Conejo Valley market.

Jared Smits with Lee & Associates represented Premier in the deal. CBRE Tom Dwyer and Michael Slater repped the landlord, Lincoln Property Company.

Fueled by the area’s growth, office rents have increased rapidly over the past 12 months, rising by nearly 11 percent, according to CBRE data. During the next five years, the population in the area is expected to increase by 4.8 percent, outperforming the anticipated population growth nationwide of 3.5 percent.

Premier Business Centers is a leading provider of full-time executive offices, part-time day offices, virtual offices, shared workspaces and meeting facilities in the U.S. Demand for co-working spaces has been on the rise. The number of co-working spaces in office markets around the country is likely to rise in 2016 as more companies, including Fortune 500 enterprises, are taking space at these types of facilities, according to a January report from CBRE Group, Inc.

-Staff

South Bay Office Campus Sells in $25 Mil Transaction

RENTV.com

 

Torrance Pointe, a three-building, 145.3k sf low-rise office campus in Torrance, traded hands in a $25.46 mil ($175/sf) transaction. The asset was acquired by Montana Avenue Capital Partners in an all-cash deal.

Torrance Pointe is located at 21041, 21061 and 21081 S. Western Ave, just off of Torrance Blvd, one of the main arterial roadways in Southern California’s South Bay area. This location provides easy access to the San Diego Freeway (1-405) and the Pacific Coast Highway, connecting the property to the affluent neighborhoods of Palos Verdes, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills Estates and Manhattan Beach.

The three-story buildings share a common area space at the convergence of the three structures with the potential to redevelop it into a unique tenant recreation area. Currently 97% leased, the property is situated adjacent to Honda’s U.S. headquarters and is home to tenants including Honda Motor Company, AT&T and Hitachi Transport System.

Andrew Harper with HFF represented the seller, Amstar Capital, in the transaction.

-Staff

Second Culver City TOD Unwraps Itself

Urbanize LA

 

With its early 2016 opening date looming, exterior work is now nearing completion on Access Culver City, a residential-retail complex at the Expo Line's Culver City Station.

The project, developed by South Carolina-based Greystar Real Estate Partners, consists of a five-story building which will feature 115 rental apartments above 30,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and a parking garage.  Other amenities will include an observation deck, a fitness center, a garden lounge and a heated swimming pool.

Plans call for studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments in a variety of floor plans, as well as two- and three-bedroom townhome units.  Each dwelling will come appointed with stainless steel appliances, in-unit washer-dryer sets.

The building's real-life appearance adheres closely to artistic renderings from architecture firm Togawa Smith Martin, with exterior finishes that include stucco, steel canopies and metal sidings.

Access Culver City is the second of four developments planned around Culver City Station, following the recently completed Platform shopping and entertainment center.  Other projects in the works include the mixed-use Ivy Station complex planned by Lowe Enterprises, and an office and residential development proposed by Vitruvian Culver City, LLC.

-Steven Sharp

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