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Psychic Temple in Long Beach slated for office conversion

Ad agency InterTrend has agreed to fix up the long-abandoned landmark and received title to it. The building's makeover is expected to cost about $2 million.

November 19, 2012|By Roger Vincent
  • University Gateway, high-end private student housing across the street from USC, has been sold for more than $200 million to a Wisconsin public employees pension fund.
University Gateway, high-end private student housing across the street… (Urban Partners )

The Psychic Temple, a long-abandoned Long Beach landmark that is one of the city's oldest commercial structures, will be converted to office space as redevelopment attracts new residents and businesses to downtown.

Advertising agency InterTrend Communications will start making improvements this week on the brick building at 224 E. Broadway near Long Beach Boulevard. It is converting the top two floors that were formerly residential spaces into offices for the firm and preparing the ground floor and basement for retail tenants such as a restaurant.

The property in a formerly blighted part of downtown has been a headache for Long Beach officials, who purchased it for the city in 2000 in the hope they could find a developer willing to perform badly needed renovations.

Because it was an official landmark that couldn't be razed, it had a negative assessed value of $350,000, said Julia Huang, chief executive of InterTrend. Her Long Beach company agreed to fix up the property and recently took title after paying the city $1.

"It was truly debilitated, but we just fell in love," Huang said.

Local developer JR van Dijs Inc. is performing the makeover, which will cost about $2 million.

The Romanesque Revival-style building was completed in 1905 by former Baptist preacher W.R. Price, founder of a doctrine he called the New or Practical Psychology. Its motto was "Health and happiness for all."

Price raised money from members to build the headquarters sometimes referred to as the Psychological Temple. Rifts among cult members soon arose, and Price's name was chiseled off the building's cornerstone after he lost control of the society. In 1911 the brick building was sold at auction.

For decades, the building's upstairs floors were used as a hotel. The property is called the American Hotel on the city's list of historic landmarks.

InterTrend will move about 80 employees there in about a year. It will leave an Ocean Boulevard high-rise to be part of a more pedestrian-oriented downtown, Huang said.

"Long Beach is going through an evolution of street culture," she said. "That was very appealing to us."

Clients of Asian-oriented InterTrend include Toyota Motor Corp., AT&T Inc., State Farm and Walt Disney Co., Huang said.

Private USC housing site is sold

University Gateway, high-end private student housing across the street from USC, has been sold for more than $200 million to a Wisconsin public employees pension fund.

The eight-story complex at 3335 S. Figueroa St. was completed in 2010 by Los Angeles developer Urban Partners, which owned it with real estate investors RCG Longview and Blackstone Real Estate Advisors. Its appraised value before the sale was $89 million, according to real estate data provider CoStar.

University Gateway has 421 units with 1,656 beds available for rent. The residences are 96% leased, according to real estate brokerage CBRE Group Inc., which helped arrange the deal. The complex also has shops and restaurants on the ground floor.

The price set a new national benchmark for the sale of a single student housing complex, said Ryan Reid, head of student housing sales at CBRE. "Urban Partners developed a high-quality asset in an irreplaceable location," he said.

Students pay about $1,000 a month per bed to live at University Gateway. Amenities include a fitness center, rooftop terraces and a sound-proof study room.

Chicago company Blue Vista Capital Partners purchased the property on behalf of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.

Father, son artists to move L.A. base

Acclaimed and sometimes controversial Los Angeles artist Paul McCarthy and his son Damon will move their base to a new location on the Eastside after the purchase of a 1970s-era industrial building.

Damon McCarthy bought the 150,000-square-foot building at 4540 Worth St. from Trammell Crow Co. for nearly $9 million, he said.

"I make big, crazy art pieces for famous artists, especially my dad," McCarthy said. His 67-year-old father is known for his provocative performance art and large-scale sculpture that often skewers the excesses of American culture.

Paul and Damon McCarthy's work "Rebel Dabble Babble," presented downtown in May, covered two floors and spilled into the parking lot of a downtown gallery. It included original videos and eight rooms based on the 1955 movie "Rebel Without a Cause."

Paul McCarthy Studios will move in next year, said Damon, who employs about 60 workers. "This will be my hub."

The Eastside neighborhoods of Lincoln Heights and El Sereno are in transition from being exclusively industrial to more artistic, said real estate broker Jimmy Chai of Cushman & Wakefield, who represented McCarthy in the deal.

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