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SAN DIEGO-In one of Southern California’s largest real estate deals of the year, a partnership of privately held WCB Properties and Starwood Capital Group has agreed to buy the 389,900-sf Hazard Center office and retail complex for $71 million.

Hazard Center is one of the best-known buildings in San Diego’s Mission Valley area. The granite-clad tower rises 15 stories and is fully occupied by tenants that include Aetna Inc., Toyota Motor Co. and American International Group Inc.—all three of which are Fortune 500 companies.

The development’s lower floors are occupied by retailers that include bookseller Barnes & Noble and Wherehouse, one of the nation’s largest video and music chains. Restaurants at the project include Prego and Trophy’s.

The Mann’s Theater multiplex on the ground floor of the high-rise is one of the theater chain’s most successful outlets, according to Cushman & Wakefield, the brokerage firm that represented seller Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. in the transaction.

Starwood Capital Group, one of the JV buyers, is the investment group headed by financier Barry Sternlicht. He controls about $6 billion of real estate across the US and is chairman and CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, a separate entity that is one of the nation’s largest owners of lodging properties.

WCB Properties, the other JV buyer, is a privately held real estate and investment company based in Newport Beach. Its local holdings include Sorrento South Corporate Center, a 275,000-sf office complex in Sorrento Mesa.

The $71 million that the partners paid for Hazard Center roughly matches the amount that Slough Estates USA paid Equitable Life Assurance in September for the Torrey Pines Science Park in La Jolla, about 15 miles to the north. Until now, Slough’s purchase was the largest in the San Diego area this year.

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