LOS ANGELES-Vornado Realty Trust of New Jersey has paid $54 million for the massive L.A. Mart in a deal that will place one of Downtown’s most enduring landmarks into a powerful nationwide chain of wholesale markets.

A tentative agreement to sell the 720,000-sf complex at South Broadway and Washington Boulevard was reached a few months ago, brokers involved in the deal say, but several contingencies had to be met before the transaction could close. The sprawling complex features 13 floors of furniture, home accessory and gift wholesalers.

L.A. Mart was developed in 1958 by the Los Angeles Home Furniture Manufacturers Association, which had long pined for a single spot where buyers from around the nation could view the products of hundreds of companies under a single roof. It thrived through the 1980s, but then suffered—-as did the region’s other wholesale marts—-during the deep recession of the early 1990s.

Now the Mart’s back on its feet, and its space is nearly fully leased, according to an official at L.A. Mart LLC, the group of private investors that has owned the complex for several years. Analysts say the sale to Vornado could mean even brighter times ahead, because the REIT operates a chain of such properties nationwide and has a massive marketing budget to match its strong industry relationships.

Vornado’s other holdings include the 3.7-million-sf Merchandise Mart in Chicago, which it bought from the Kennedy Family for $625 million. The Chicago complex is the world’s largest building.

Vornado represented itself in the LA transaction. L.A. Mart LLC was represented by a trio of brokers from Cushman Realty’s Downtown office. Cushman helped to broker the sale of West Hollywood’s 1.2-million-sf Pacific Design Center and Downtown’s two-million-sf California Mart over the past 12 months.

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