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NEWPORT BEACH, CA-Layton-Belling & Associates has formed LBA Industrial Fund I with institutional and other investors, planning to buy $180 million worth of industrial properties during the next 18 months.

The company bought two assets for $32 million already and is targeting properties throughout Southern California, according to Steve Briggs, principal and portfolio manager, but the fund will concentrate on some of L.A. County’s largest industrial markets, namely the City of Commerce, City of Industry, Mid-Cities and the South Bay. It’s looking for a range of single industrial buildings and larger institutional multi-tenant properties at values from $5 to $30 million, Briggs says.

The fund’s first two purchases were Canyon Corporate Center in Anaheim and 2100 East Valencia in Fullerton. Canyon Corporate Center is a class A, four-building development totaling 215,682 sf of light manufacturing and warehouse space. The Fullerton property is a 268,612-sf class A warehouse and light manufacturing facility.

The Layton-Belling fund is further evidence of what commercial real estate brokers describe as a continued high level of investor interest in industrial properties. Large institutional investors see industrial properties as a safer bet than some other property types in a sluggish economy, brokers say, and industrial vacancy rates have remained relatively low throughout much of Southern California.

The volume of industrial sales and leasing rose in Los Angeles County during the second quarter of this year, according to a recent report from CB Richard Ellis, which said that he report shows that sales and leasing in the county jumped 19% to 12.1 million sf from 9.8 million sf during the first quarter. The year-over-year comparison revealed an even greater increase of 31% from the 8.4 million sf during the second quarter of 2001.

During the last seven years, Layton-Belling has acquired approximately $1 billion of industrial and office properties through previous LBA investment funds. This investment activity has included owning and operating more than $350 million of industrial properties alone.

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