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Former MPG execs launch own firm with acquisition in Los Angeles

Nelson and Christopher Rising of Rising Realty Partners expect their purchase of a downtown Los Angeles office building to close Monday. Industry experts value the deal at $60 million.

April 16, 2012|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
  • Simpson Housing bought the Brockman Building at 530 W. 7th St. in Los Angeles from Bank of America. The former office and retail complex will be turned into luxury apartments and called the Brockman Lofts.
Simpson Housing bought the Brockman Building at 530 W. 7th St. in Los Angeles… (Simpson Housing )

Former executives of office landlord MPG Office Trust Inc. have launched their own property company with the purchase of a landmark Los Angeles office building.

Nelson and Christopher Rising of Rising Realty Partners expect their acquisition of Pacific Center at 6th and Olive streets to close Monday. Terms of the purchase from Alliance Commercial Partners were not revealed, but experts familiar with downtown real estate prices value the deal at $60 million.

The new owners will change the name of the complex to the PacMutual Building, in keeping with origins of the Beaux Arts-style complex that can be traced to railroad tycoons Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford and Mark Hopkins. In 1868, the men founded Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co., the first life insurance company west of the Mississippi.

Pacific Mutual's San Francisco headquarters building was dynamited in 1906 to help stop the spread of the fire after the city's great earthquake that year. Administrators hurriedly built a new headquarters in Los Angeles that opened in 1908. Major additions followed through 1936, including one of the city's first underground garages in 1926.

The 440,000-square-foot complex is 68% leased, said Christopher Rising, president of Rising Realty. His father, Nelson, is chairman of the Los Angeles company, and Reed Garwood is executive vice president.

Rising Realty wants to buy West Coast office buildings that can rise in value after they are improved, the Risings said. At PacMutual, the company will work to find tenants for the interior retail spaces and may add sidewalk seating at street-facing restaurants, including the Water Grill.

They may remove the drywall, dropped ceilings and carpet in some offices to reveal brick walls, windows and concrete floors. Tenants may choose between such "creative-style" offices and the more traditional ones there now.

The Risings hope to retain the building's current tenants and attract a mix of corporate and creative clients while restoring historic features of the complex.

"We really want to make American Business Bank feel as much a part of this building as any new tech tenants," Christopher Rising said.

Luxury apartments set for downtown L.A.

A historic downtown Los Angeles office and retail complex that was being converted to condominiums before the last recession has been purchased out of bankruptcy and will be turned into luxury apartments.

Denver developer Simpson Housing bought the Brockman Building at 530 W. 7th St. from Bank of America Corp., which took it back from another developer that had almost completed the condo conversion before the residential market went south starting in 2007.

The Brockman Building earned a footnote in Hollywood lore nearly a century ago when silent film actor and director Harold Lloyd reportedly witnessed "human fly" Bill Struther climb the exterior of the 12-story tower as a stunt.

Lloyd was inspired to make his famous 1923 romantic comedy "Safety Last," which includes a harrowing building-climbing scene that climaxes with Lloyd apparently hanging from the hands of a clock high above Los Angeles' Broadway street.

The upper floors of the Brockman have been vacant for years. It barely escaped the wrecking ball during the office-building boom of the 1980s when a Japanese developer bought the property with the intention of razing it and other buildings to make way for a new office and hotel complex. Brooks Bros., a tenant in the Brockman for 50 years, moved its downtown clothing store to a new location in 1989, leaving the building empty.

Bottega Louie restaurant opened in the former Brooks Bros. space in 2009 and has been a popular part of an emerging bar and restaurant scene on 7th.

Simpson Housing is finishing work on 80 units and will begin leasing at the end of the month, company spokeswoman Adrienne Hill said. Rents at the Brockman Lofts, as it will be known, will start at $2,200 a month and reach $10,000 for a penthouse.

The building was built in 1912 and a shorter annex was added in 1917. Hot and cold plunge pools have been added on the roof of the annex along with a fitness center, lounge and outdoor kitchen. The Brockman Lofts will have a concierge and valet parking.

roger.vincent@latimes.com

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