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World Trade Center in Long Beach Is Bought

April 04, 2002|JESUS SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The 27-story Long Beach World Trade Center and adjoining Hilton Hotel in downtown Long Beach have been sold for an undisclosed amount to a joint venture that plans to add more office space as well as housing and shops to the seaside development.

An affiliate of the project's developer, Kajima USA, sold the about 12-acre complex at Ocean Boulevard and the Long Beach Freeway to a joint venture of Ensemble Investments and an investment partnership managed by AEW Capital Management on behalf of institutional investors. The new owners also purchased the land, which had been leased from the Port of Long Beach, for $20.4 million.

The 550,000-square-foot office building was completed in 1989, and the 393-room hotel opened in 1992. They were to be part of a much larger complex with nearly 3 million square feet of office, hotel and retail space. But only a single office tower and the hotel, which were developed for about $150 million, a plaza and some retail space were completed before the recession of the early 1990s halted further expansion.

Despite a turnaround in the Long Beach office market in the late 1990s, the World Trade Center remains about 15% vacant and any future development on the site will be far smaller than originally planned, said Kam Babaoff, managing director of Phoenix-based Ensemble, which owns other office buildings and property in downtown Long Beach.

The firm will start working on plans to build a mix of housing, retail and more office space on a seven-acre site north of the existing hotel and office building, Babaoff said. His company plans to refurbish the guest rooms of the Hilton Hotel as part of an effort to attract more travelers.

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