Even as the commercial real estate industry reaches new heights of sophistication in complex transactions and high-profile developments, it remains at its core a business driven by personal relationships.
Real estate deals still hinge on reputations and carefully cultivated connections. In short, it's a "people" business that attracts engaging characters who pursue dramatic accomplishments and compete for vast sums of money.
With the market ready to roar into 1998, The Times asked local commercial property pros who they will be keeping an eye on in the year ahead. The following list is a sampling of the more "watchable" players expected by industry experts to make news.
The Investors Buying Up Properties
* Dan Emmett and Jordan Kaplan
* President and chief financial officer, Douglas Emmett Realty Advisors, Brentwood
* Background: Have ranked among the most active buyers of high-quality office buildings, mostly on the Westside, as the market bottomed out and began recovering.
* Why watchable: They continue to frequently outbid other buyers, such as with the recent $125-million-plus acquisition of Wilshire Landmark II in Brentwood, and still have deep financial backing from loyal institutional investors.
* Richard Ziman and Victor Coleman
* Chairman and president, Arden Realty Inc., Beverly Hills
* Background: Seasoned commercial property investors/operators assembled extensive office portfolio during recessionary days, before tapping into the public market as a REIT--and continuing the buying spree.
* Why watchable: They're still spending gobs of Wall Street funds on local properties, although some insiders think they may get a takeover offer they can't refuse from a bigger East Coast REIT.
* Steve Plenge
* Director of West Coast acquisitions, Federal Realty Investment Trust, Santa Monica
* Background: Veteran local real estate pro now helping big East Coast-based retail REIT pursue opportunities, such as just-closed $43.5-million acquisition of Rolling Hills Estates shopping center.
* Why watchable: Expected to continue accumulating a noteworthy local portfolio, such as space along Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade and in Old Pasadena.
* Jeff Nickell
* Vice president, Spieker Properties Inc., Pasadena
* Background: Heads new L.A.-area office of what is probably the West Coast's most prolific buyer of suburban office and industrial real estate today.
* Why watchable: Company expected to acquire local developer Shurl Curci's extensive Transpacific Development Co. portfolio. Expect Spieker to continue to corner their favorite markets--Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and the Westside for starters.
* Peter Adams
* Vice president/regional manager, Equity Office Properties, downtown Los Angeles
* Background: Key local executive of nation's biggest office REIT, which has acquired two major new downtown office towers since mid-1996.
* Why watchable: Contrary to EOP Chairman Sam Zell's posturing, the company has indeed discussed participation in select development ventures, along with choice acquisitions.
* Scott Davis
* Director of acquisitions and development for Southern California, Bay Apartment Communities Inc., Newport Beach
* Background: Regional point man for fast-growing apartment REIT headquartered in San Jose.
* Why watchable: Planning to invest well over $200 million in Southland apartment properties by the end of January--and much more to come is probably a safe assumption.
* Glenn Carpenter
* Chairman, Pacific Gulf Properties Inc., Newport Beach
* Background: Another well-established REIT tapping into the Wall Street real estate capital flow.
* Why watchable: Continues to raise investment capital and place it in Southland real estate, with a late-1997 emphasis on Orange County industrial-property portfolios.
The Developers Taking the Risks
* Allen D. Kohl
* Founder, Regent Properties, Beverly Hills
* Background: Entrepreneur from well-connected family spent last couple of years securing interests in diverse string of commercial and retail developments.
* Why watchable: Timing seems right for several ongoing projects, such as in West Hills, Westwood, Hollywood and Glendale.
* Paul Marshall
* Vice president of development, Opus West Corp., Irvine
* Background: Regional development head for subsidiary of giant Opus Group of Cos.
* Why watchable: Earlier this year, Opus snagged the last remaining site available for high-rise development in Koll Center Irvine. It plans to break ground at the end of the first quarter on a 12-story office building. Other office and industrial developments are underway in the Inland Empire and Foothill Ranch.
* M. David Paul
* Principal, M. David Paul & Associates, Santa Monica
* Background: Veteran developer wisely sat on sidelines as others built too much space--now pursuing select developments and redevelopments in best marketplaces.
* Why watchable: Holds some of the best blocks of office space available on the Westside and is pursuing development targeting Burbank area's space-starved entertainment industry.