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Realty Pros to Watch in 2002

Though many will focus on filling vacant space, several innovative developers will pursue intriguing local redevelopment projects.


In the midst of an economic decline that dawned with the tech wreck and was exacerbated by the fallout of Sept. 11, local property professionals face slowed demand for offices, stores and warehouses. The focus for many this year will be to fill vacant space and find tenants for new developments nearing completion.

Meanwhile, several innovative real estate developers will pursue some of the most intriguing redevelopment projects the Los Angeles area has seen. A common theme among these: high-density revitalization of urban sites through "mixed" uses rarely seen here.

Some key factors make such new uses desirable and financially viable even in the face of a national recession. Among them: Southern California's continuing population explosion; high home prices and apartment rents; and congested freeways and thoroughfares.

As the year turns, realty pros also have their collective eye on some pending high-profile property transactions that should indicate how the investment community views the local market's near- and longer-term prospects.

The following are some local commercial real estate figures expected to make headlines in the months ahead.

Robert Maguire, principal, Maguire Partners, Los Angeles.

Background: One of the region's most prolific and visible commercial developers, Maguire has been angling to raise capital by selling a stake in his extensive portfolio.

Why watchable: New Year's apparently passed without a deal, but one may be coming soon. His reinvestment of the proceeds probably will make news as well, with some of it presumably helping finance construction at the Playa Vista planned community near Marina del Rey.

Steve Provencio, vice president, AEW Capital Management, Los Angeles.

Background: Oversees clients' regional property holdings for Boston-based investment advisor.

Why watchable: He's the seller's local point man managing the bidding among numerous high-powered candidates trying to buy a portfolio of Warner Center high-rise office towers and an adjacent business park. The price is expected to far exceed $400 million, making it one of the biggest Southland real estate deals slated for a 2002 close.

Tom Bohlinger, senior vice president, CB Richard Ellis, Los Angeles.

Background: Veteran investment broker heads a team working to sell downtown L.A. landmark Arco Plaza for owner Shuwa Investments.

Why watchable: While Shuwa's Tom Kibler and brokers at Cushman & Wakefield continue seeking tenants for Arco Plaza's empty offices, Bohlinger and company will be working with prospective buyers for the twin towers.

Steve Silk and Jay Borzi, senior managing directors, Secured Capital Corp., Los Angeles.

Background: Investment brokers have handled several of the West Coast's largest commercial property sales in recent years.

Why watchable: The assignments seem to keep rolling in, including large malls, industrial portfolios and high-profile office properties such as Warner Center, where the brokers work for Provencio.

Robert Stelzl, principal, Colony Capital, Century City.

Background: Identifies and evaluates potential investments for a firm whose various opportunity funds have acquired and managed several billion dollars' worth of real estate assets.

Why watchable: Colony is working on its fifth mega-fund, and Stelzl's team is said to be bidding on the Warner Center portfolio. The group may not end up with Warner Center--but Stelzl's participation seems to portend other large local deals.

Ted Tanner, senior vice president, Los Angeles Arena Land Co., Los Angeles.

Background: Development executive with extensive public-private partnership experience is now the point man on plans for the proposed $1-billion mixed-use project adjacent to Staples Center.

Why watchable: Anyone who followed the approval and construction process at Staples realizes Tanner and company's every move will be heavily scrutinized--especially when that elusive convention hotel comes up.

Avi Shemesh, Shaul Kuba and Richard Ressler, principals, CIM Group, Westwood.

Background: Innovative urban real estate investment and development group's many successes have continued to attract capital--and other intriguing projects.

Why watchable: The renovation and reuse specialists' latest endeavor is the former Southern California Gas Co. headquarters property just south of downtown L.A.'s high-rise core. CIM's plans include commercial space, residential lofts and even a supermarket.

Steve Soboroff, president, Playa Vista, Los Angeles.

Background: After his failed bid to replace friend Richard Riordan as L.A.'s mayor, the retail-chain realty representative and shopping center owner took over the reins as development point man at the Westside's huge and controversial planned community.

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