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HEARD ON THE BEAT / REAL ESTATE

Properties Group Fund-Raiser Draws Crowd

June 10, 1998|DARYL STRICKLAND

In another sign that the commercial market is turning around, more than 1,000 people attended a recent fund-raiser for the Orange County chapter of the National Assn. of Industrial and Office Properties.

This year's "Night at the Fights," which featured three boxing matches and steak and cognac, became the group's biggest gathering ever, topping the 820 attendees of last year.

Attendance at the event, which was held last month at the Hyatt Regency Irvine, has mirrored the boom and bust cycle of Orange County development. For instance, in 1991, when the event started and the market turned sour, the crowd totaled 400. By 1996, when the climate improved, the number jumped to 600.

This year, every major commercial and industrial development firm in Orange County bought tickets to the $300-a-plate dinner, said Dougall Agan, president of the trade group that represents 250 real estate companies. Koll Development Co. topped the list of sponsors, buying five tables with 10 seats each.

"Any time there's a positive economy and business is growing, people are looking to talk about their opportunities and speak about successes," said Agan, who also is senior vice president of the Foothill Ranch Co.

Donning a wig, boxing gloves and oversized trunks that came up to his armpits, Agan, who has no previous ring experience, "sparred" with one of the pros. One blow knocked Agan's mouthpiece and wig about 20 feet across the ring, leaving him bruised. "I'm always one to participate in memorable times," he said.

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Daryl Strickland covers real estate for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5670, and at daryl.strickland@latimes.com.

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