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Anderson Partnership Buys Oxnard Financial Plaza

Ventura County complex of 13 buildings, which is 85% occupied, is being acquired for about $58 million.

January 29, 2002|BRAD BERTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A real estate investment partnership headed by Los Angeles businessman John E. Anderson and his wife, Marion, is acquiring Oxnard Financial Plaza, home to the tallest office building between the Bay Area and Los Angeles County.

An affiliate of the Andersons' Duesenberg Investment Co. real estate group has agreed to purchase the 13-building complex featuring the 21-story Morgan Stanley Tower and 14-story City National Bank Tower. John Anderson said he expects escrow to close in mid-February.

The Duesenberg group is buying the 580,000-square-foot development along the Ventura Freeway for about $58 million--about $100 per square foot. The price is said to be barely half of what it would cost to develop the property today.

The late Martin "Bud" Smith, one of Ventura County's most prolific builders, developed the 27-acre complex during the 1970s and 1980s.

The Andersons are buying it from an affiliate of the institutionally backed real estate opportunity fund--Tiger/Westbrook Real Estate Partners--that bought the bulk of Smith's local real estate portfolio in 1996.

Transwestern Commercial Services has been overseeing the real estate on behalf of the Tiger/Westbrook affiliate, known as Channel Islands Properties. Secured Capital Corp. brokered the sale.

Anderson, who heads Century City-based Topa Equities Ltd., said the new owners will rename the property Topa Financial Plaza. The Tower Club atop the Morgan Stanley building will become the Topa Tower Club. Topa-affiliated insurance groups that do business in Ventura County are expected to move into the complex, where about 85% of the office space is occupied.

Anderson said he's comfortable outbidding the competition for prime real estate even though the near-term economic outlook. "In the long-run, that's actually the cheapest--and wisest--route'' to assembling a productive property portfolio, he said.

The Duesenberg group has purchased office buildings in the nearby Conejo Corridor over the last several months. "I'm very high on Ventura County,'' said Anderson, who also owns a ranch there.

The Andersons purchased Honolulu's AmFac Center (now Topa Financial Center) in October utilizing favorable financing available through today's low interest rates. The Duesenberg investment partnership will pay cash for the Oxnard acquisition, though Anderson said the group may later seek to place a mortgage on the property.

While the Conejo Corridor may see vacancies continue to rise and rents soften as new developments open in the months ahead, office rents in the Oxnard vicinity are edging upward, according to Daum Commercial Real Estate. Very few new offices are under construction in western Ventura County.

Anderson said he's also actively looking to boost his holdings on the Westside, which already include properties in Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades.

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