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AIDS Group Alleges Building Lease Was Biased

April 04, 1993|G. JEANETTE AVENT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BEVERLY HILLS — Chicago-based Physicians Assn. for AIDS Care charged last week that a Beverly Hills property manager required the group to use only its initials on the building lobby directory because its name contained the word AIDS .

A spokesman for the educational organization said Thursday that the group had planned to move into an executive suite at 9454 Wilshire Blvd. this month but refused to sign the lease when the requirement was made a condition of the agreement.

An addendum to the lease also stated that the group's door sign would read PAAC and that its phone would be answered as PAAC, said Mabrey Whigham, a spokesman for the group.

But officials of the Beverly Wilshire Executive Suites said PAAC had verbally agreed to the conditions before the addendum was sent and that the building management would have agreed to the use of the full name.

PAAC is an association of physicians and health care professionals organized to provide medical education and influence public policy regarding HIV.

Whigham said he had traveled to the Los Angeles area in February scouting locations for a new West Coast office, and had tentatively selected the Beverly Hills office because "the rent was good and the address was good."

Whigham said the group's credit application had been approved by Beverly Wilshire Executive Suites, the company that owned and managed the executive offices, and a deposit had been given.

The group was surprised when the lease came with the provisions, Whigham said. He said a representative from the property management company told him tenants in a shared office setting were very image-conscious and that using the full name would have a negative effect.

Whigham said the group is looking for office space in Westwood or Century City, and also plans to open an office in New York.

Paris Nourafchan, a general managing partner of the building and Beverly Wilshire Executive Suites, said Thursday that the group's allegations saddened him.

Nourafchan said the group's initials are displayed prominently on its stationery and that the use of the initials PAAC for signs and phone reception had been agreed upon by both sides.

Nourafchan said Beverly Wilshire Executive Suites, which operates two floors of executive offices, has been in contact with PAAC and has "told them that we'd love to have them as tenants."

"We'll answer their phone any way they wish," he said, adding that the group's full name could be placed on the building's directory as well.

"Whatever they want, we'll do," he said. "If they want the whole name used, we'll gladly do it. It's not a big issue."

Other groups that have the word AIDS in their names said they had not experienced any discrimination by building managers and were surprised by the allegations.

A spokesman for Aid for AIDS said that group, which provides financial assistance to AIDS patients, uses the acronym AFA on the office door and building directory to avoid embarrassment to its clients rather than other tenants of the West Hollywood building.

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