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California

Universal City Tower Sold for $190 Million

Vivendi accepts a bid from Beacon Capital Partners and CarrAmerica for the 35-story skyscraper.

June 19, 2003|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

French media giant Vivendi Universal, in the midst of trying to sell its U.S. entertainment assets, has unloaded a prime piece of real estate with the $190-million sale of a 35-story skyscraper in Universal City.

The granite-clad office at 10 Universal City Plaza was bought by Boston investment manager Beacon Capital Partners and CarrAmerica Realty Corp., a Washington real estate investment trust.

About half of the 774,240-square-foot building is occupied by Vivendi, which will stay in that space as a tenant. And 30% of the building is occupied by tenants such as Sun Microsystems Inc. and consulting firm Watson Wyatt & Co., said Malcolm O'Donnell, CarrAmerica's managing director for Southern California. It is 20% vacant.

The building designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill was built in 1984 by Getty Oil Co. and soars over the 423-acre Universal City business complex in the San Fernando Valley.

Competitive negotiations with Vivendi were worth the trouble, said Jeremy Fletcher, chief executive of Beacon Capital Partners West. "It's the best building between downtown L.A. and downtown San Francisco," he said.

The buyers beat out other big investors including New York-based Tishman Speyer Properties, Houston-based Hines and Grossman Co. Properties of Phoenix.

Vivendi also hopes to sell two nearby properties, the Sheraton Universal Hotel and the ground under Universal City Hilton & Towers, real estate sources said.

In a separate transaction, Vivendi has set a Monday deadline for bids to buy the company's U.S. entertainment assets including Universal Studios and the company's theme parks.

The property sale marks a break with tradition, said real estate broker Carl Muhlstein of Cushman & Wakefield.

"The studios -- especially Universal as long as Lew Wasserman was alive -- would never sell an inch," Muhlstein said. Wasserman, the founder of MCA and once considered the most powerful man in Hollywood, died last year.

CarrAmerica owns 3.8 million square feet of office space in Southern California, including 2600 W. Olive Ave. in Burbank, where Walt Disney Co. is the major tenant, O'Donnell said.

Beacon's $3-billion real estate portfolio includes the Trillium office buildings in Woodland Hills and BP Plaza in downtown Los Angeles.

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