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LOS ANGELES-A private investment group has paid $16.8 million for a 419-unit apartment complex in Baldwin Village, an area that has been scorned by most large institutions for years but now is gaining the attention of smaller investors.

There are 17 buildings inside the development. The buyer is privately held New Hampshire Apartments Inc. and the seller is Thomas Pottmeyer Co., another private investment firm based in LA.

The Baldwin Village development is part of Baldwin Hills, an unusual clump of rolling land and small mountains that was used by LA-area studios to film Western movies in the 1920s and ’30s and then TV shows in the ’50s and ’60s. A large portion of Baldwin Hills can never be developed because of its rugged terrain, variety of wildlife and other factors.

Yet, several parts of the base of Baldwin Hills have slowly been built-up. The area’s southernmost end touches South-Central LA, where riots flared in 1965 and again in 1992. But its northern end, several miles away, stretches into affluent Westside communities that include Ladera Heights, Westchester and Culver City.

Seth Pollen, one of the two Marcus & Millichap brokers who put the Baldwin Village deal together, tells GlobeSt.com that there are many other good rental properties in the same area that would make fine investments. “The problem is, a lot of investors hear ‘Baldwin Hills’ and they get scared-off because they automatically equate it with ‘South-Central’ instead of the Westside,” Pollen says. “If these buildings had a Westside ZIP code, they’d sell for two or three times more.”

Though Baldwin Hills has failed to attract the attention of most big institutions, it has caught the eye of at least one high-profile investor. Basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson has made investments in several of the area’s properties, including restaurants, movie theaters and even some shopping centers.

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