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Escrow Closes on Warner Purchase

Real estate: Douglas Emmett Realty is believed to have paid $335 million for six office towers in Woodland Hills.

September 12, 2002|BRAD BERTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Escrow has closed on Douglas Emmett Realty Advisors' purchase of the Warner Center Plaza office towers in the heart of the Warner Center commercial complex in Woodland Hills.

The Santa Monica company, which owns and operates commercial and residential buildings on behalf of private investors, is believed to have paid about $335 million for the six glass-skinned high-rises on Oxnard Street.

Douglas Emmett principal Jordan Kaplan declined to disclose the price paid for the high-profile real estate. He said the acquisition "helps round our strategy" to secure a significant share of the Valley's Class A office market, adding that he looks forward to tackling opportunities in the Warner Center district.

Douglas Emmett bought the buildings, totaling 1.8 million square feet, from AH Warner Center, which took title to the high-rises and adjacent Warner Center Business Park low-rise complex in 1995. Warner Center pioneer Robert Voit and various partners developed the buildings from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. and Harvard University's endowment fund make up the AH Warner Center group. Boston's AEW Capital Management is the group's asset manager. The sellers listed the portfolio for sale last year through Secured Capital Corp., a West Los Angeles real estate investment banking firm.

Kearny Real Estate Co., a real estate investment group in Century City, has agreed to purchase Warner Center Business Park for a reported $55 million.

The Warner Center Plaza deal marks the largest investment to date for Douglas Emmett, whose Southern California office portfolio in recent years has expanded from the Westside to San Fernando Valley's Ventura Boulevard corridor. The firm has converted the former Sherman Oaks Galleria enclosed regional mall into a mostly open-air retail, entertainment and office center.

Douglas Emmett representatives didn't return calls seeking a comment.

Valley real estate professionals said the new owner could boost Warner Center Plaza's value by renovating buildings and finding tenants for the 20-story tower vacated this year by Health Net Inc.

About 465,000 square feet was available within the Plaza at the end of August, according to the complex's Web site.

Bob Safai, a real estate investment broker with Madison Partners in Brentwood, said the acquisition should be good for Douglas Emmett and its clients because they bought the signature towers at a price far below what it would cost to build them.

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