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Looking for Office Space Downtown?

June 03, 1986|Bill Ritter

There may not be a "For Sale" sign outside the First Interstate Plaza at 4th Avenue and B Street downtown, but that shouldn't stop would-be buyers.

The 23-story, 504,000-square-foot, six-sided, carmine red granite building has been shopped to several parties in the last six months, as 50% owner Great-West Life Assurance Co. of Winnipeg, Canada, tries to find a buyer. The building, which was built for $83 million and opened in December, 1984, is 45% leased.

Dean Murdock, vice president of corporate affairs at Great-West, confirmed that his firm has held "discussions with a number of people" concerning a sale. But, he said, "nothing's on paper, nothing is imminent."

Bowlen Holdings, developer of the building, and Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye, a local law firm, are each 25% owners. Under terms of the partnership, Great-West has the option to buy out Bowlen's interest or to demand that Bowlen buy out its share, according to real estate industry sources.

The Koll Co. reportedly looked into buying the building late last year but couldn't agree on terms.

The latest company to stroll through for a possible acquisition: Trammell Crow. Those talks also reportedly broke down, although Trammell Crow officials wouldn't comment.

Grant Tower Kicked Around Again

There's a good reason why the glass-enclosed, and very empty, two-story structure fronting C Street in back of the U.S. Grant Hotel downtown will remain tenantless for a while.

It might be torn down.

Officials of the Sickels Group, which rebuilt the Grant, acknowledge that the newly built structure, planned for a mix of retail and office space, might be dismantled in favor of a high-rise office and retail building.

"We're discussing the possibility of a tower," said Sickels Group executive Pat Leone. "It's just in the discussion stages--it may happen, it may not happen."

A tower was in the original Grant renovation plans, but was scrapped when the project ran into financing problems.

Namesake Sends Them Scrambling

The AIDS epidemic has taken another victim, this time an office building.

AID Plaza Building in La Mesa has changed its name to Allied Office Plaza, the result of building officials taking "a lot of ribbing," according to manager Hardy Kuykendall.

Also undergoing a name change is the AID Plaza Executive Suites, which take up the building's second floor. It's new name is Inland Executive Suites.

The seven-story building on Alvarado Road is owned by Iowa-based AID Insurance Co., which has changed its name to Allied Mutual Insurance.

Kuykendall may have taken some heckling but it doesn't appear to have hurt his bottom line: Occupancy stands at 95%.

Boxer Fights His Own Battle

La Jollan Harold Boxer has the kind of fight-back energy that makes retirement something to look forward to. The 70-year-old former Fedder's Solar Products executive may be out of a job, but he's working as hard as ever.

Last week he appeared in federal court, armed with dozens of legal arguments he had authored without the help of an attorney, asking for a temporary restraining order to stop Alaska Housing Finance Corp. from redeeming millions of dollars' worth of mortgage bonds.

Boxer charges violations of federal security laws and alleges that Alaska Housing developed a "confusing structure of four bond series in two underwritings with the sole purpose of concealing the remarkable financial advantage" one series had over the others.

"The prospectus is so tricky that you have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to understand it," he mused.

U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson Jr.'s staff was impressed with Boxer's zeal, but not with his legal grounds. Thompson denied the motion, ruling that Boxer's loss was not irreparable and that a monetary remedy was available.

Plea Bargain Expected in Brophy Case

Friday's indictment of Lawrence J. Brophy on federal charges of fraud and conspiracy was but the latest criminal action in the years-old case of Common Sense Capital Corp., the real estate limited partnership operation once headed by Brophy.

Earlier this month, several former Common Sense Capital officials were charged in a two-count felony complaint brought by state authorities in connection with selling unregistered securities.

Those officials are scheduled to appear in court today, where a plea bargain is expected to be announced. They each face a prison term of at least three years. The indictment Friday was in connection with an office building that now houses the San Diego Daily Transcript newspaper, which purchased the facility out of bankruptcy in 1984. The current ownership has not been involved in the litigation.

Jack Is Back, Again

Two weeks ago, Jack Alexander said that he resigned as chairman and chief executive of First Affiliated Securities because the company, with $60 million in annual revenue, had simply grown too big to make full use of his entrepreneurial spirit.

But then, last week, Alexander accepted a job as chairman and chief executive of Starfire Industries Ltd., a Vancouver, Canada, holding company that owns a substantial position in three companies that generate several hundred million dollars in sales per year.

It's no contradiction, Alexander insists. In fact, he still plans to go ahead with JAA Ventures, his newly formed investment banking firm that will allow him, he says, room to move as a free-spirited entrepreneur.

As for Starfire Industries, it's not long for Canada. In the coming weeks, the company will relocate to Del Mar, where Alexander spent time last week hunting for office space.

And just how did a Vancouver firm come to hire San Diegan Alexander? Connections. Texan Hank Chappel, Starfire's largest shareholder, is a "good friend of mine," Alexander said.

There's another connection. Alexander, while with First Affiliated, helped finance some Starfire ventures in the last year.

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