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Valencia Town Center to Be Sold to Chicago Investment Firm

Retail property: Newhall Land & Farming did not disclose price for its Santa Clarita Valley shopping hub and nearby holdings.

August 23, 2000|JESUS SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Newhall Land & Farming Co. has agreed to sell the Valencia Town Center mall--the shopping hub of the booming Santa Clarita Valley--and nearby retail property to RREEF, a Chicago-based real estate investment firm.

Newhall Land officials said the real estate company anticipates closing escrow on the sale of the 800,000-square-foot enclosed mall and adjacent property on newly built Town Center Drive by the end of September.

"We are working quite seriously with somebody who is well respected in the industry," said Newhall spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer, who declined to identify the buyer or the sales price.

However, real estate observers identified the buyer as RREEF, a giant real estate investment and advisory firm that manages more than $12 billion in assets nationwide. The firm recently purchased Stadium Plaza Business Park, an approximately 157,000-square-foot industrial park in Anaheim. Last year, the firm sold the Century City Shopping Center in Los Angeles in a deal valued at $273 million.

RREEF officials could not be reached for comment.

Newhall Land--which developed the master planned community of Valencia--has put the shopping center and some of the office buildings on Town Center Drive up for sale as part of an effort to finance the repurchase of its shares or units. The buyback is intended to boost the company's unit price, which has remained in the doldrums.

Lauffer said the firm is also "working with a potential buyer" interested in the office buildings but no agreement has been reached.

"We are capitalizing on the strong real estate market . . . in order to buy back our units," said Lauffer.

Valencia Town Center is the largest shopping mall in northern Los Angeles County, with more than 100 stores, including JCPenney, Sears and Robinsons-May department stores. The company recently completed an additional 100,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space on Town Center Drive, a "Main Street" of shops, office buildings, homes and a hotel that Newhall Land built from scratch.

The mall has been successful in tapping into the Santa Clarita Valley's fast-growing and affluent population, said Brent F. Howell, retailing specialist with broker CB Richard Ellis.

"Some malls have sort of gotten stagnant, and I would question their future," Howell said. "But not this one."

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