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Kaiser buys South Los Angeles site for new medical facility

The nation's largest nonprofit health plan and hospital system plans to build two buildings on the site as a long-awaited redevelopment project known as Marlton Square moves forward.

May 28, 2012|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
  • A fence borders most of a vacant lot slated for redevelopment in South Los Angeles at the corner of Marlton Avenue and Santa Rosalia Drive. The 22-acre project known as Marlton Square was identified by city officials two decades ago as a prime site for redevelopment.
A fence borders most of a vacant lot slated for redevelopment in South Los… (Gina Ferazzi, Los Angeles…)

A long-awaited redevelopment project known as Marlton Square in South Los Angeles is set to move forward with the sale of a large portion of the site to Kaiser Permanente.

Kaiser, the nation's largest nonprofit health plan and hospital system, plans to build two medical office buildings on the northeast corner of Marlton Avenue and Santa Rosalia Drive, real estate broker Jamie Brooks of CBRE Group Inc. said. Kaiser doctors will treat patients at the new facilities.

The 22-acre Marlton Square was identified by city officials two decades ago as a prime site for redevelopment, and millions of dollars in public funds were committed for improvements. Those upgrades have only recently begun with the completion in December of an apartment complex for seniors on 2.25 acres.

Kaiser bought 8.65 acres from Commercial Mortgage Managers, a Torrance investment firm. The price wasn't disclosed, but real estate experts familiar with Marlton Square value the vacant land at about $40 per square foot.

Commercial Mortgage Managers is in negotiations to sell the rest of the property to potential developers of a 120,000-square-foot retail center that would rise across Marlton from Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall and Rave Cinemas.

"Kaiser's commitment to this community and this project is the linchpin that will help us finally revive the vision for Marlton Square that had been dormant for so many years," David Rentz of CMM said. "This changes the complexion of the whole area."

Kaiser needs city approval of its plans before construction can begin, Rentz said. That process could take 18 months.

Marlton Square had been part of a $1-billion real estate portfolio that defaulted when USA Capital, the lender, filed for bankruptcy in 2006. A court-ordered stay was placed on the assets, which halted redevelopment. It was the latest in a long string of setbacks for Marlton Square, formerly known as Santa Barbara Plaza.

In 2010, the federal trustee approved a plan that allowed the portfolio to be split up. Commercial Mortgage Managers, the primary investor in Marlton Square, secured the title in August that year and began preparing it for sale.

Work starts on apartment complex near Staples Center

Construction began last week on the Avant, a $170-million luxury apartment complex near the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The Avant will have 440 units in three buildings on Figueroa and Flower streets between Pico and Venice boulevards. Downtown's South Park neighborhood, which includes Staples Center and the LA Live entertainment complex, is among the region's more robust rental housing markets.

"There is a huge demand for attractive and well-appointed residential units," developer Randy Fifield said. "While 500,000 people work downtown, the market-rate housing inventory comprises only 17,706 units."

The project is being developed by Century West Partners, a Los Angeles residential builder made up of Fifield and her husband, Steve Fifield of Fifield Cos. in Chicago, and Los Angeles apartment investor Michael Sorochinsky of Cypress Equity Investments.

The first phase of the Avant consists of two seven-story buildings at 1340 S. Figueroa and 1355 S. Flower. Joined by an elevated walkway, the two buildings will house 247 apartments above ground-floor restaurants and shops.

Those buildings are set to be completed by November 2013, when work will begin on another seven-story tower with 194 units at 1500 S. Figueroa that would be finished by the end of 2014.

Rents at the Avant are expected to range from $1,350 to $3,500 per month.

Ventura's historic Pierpont Inn to be sold at auction

The Pierpont Inn & Spa, a century-old Ventura hotel that once served as a getaway for L.A.'s upper crust, will land on the auction block next month in a bankruptcy sale.

The Arts and Crafts style hotel was built in 1910 by Josephine Pierpont and is the oldest hostelry in Ventura County. A 1916 story in The Times called it "an inn of the highest class" and praised its views of the Channel Islands.

The 76-room hotel on 6 acres near Highway 101 lost more than $1 million in 2011, however, and the owners were unable to pay their debts, according to documents filed in federal Bankruptcy Court.

The auction will be June 7 in Los Angeles, said real estate broker Karine Aslanian of Paramount Real Estate & Property Management in Glendale, who is showing the property to qualified bidders.

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