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COSTA MESA, CA-The Essex Portfolio LP affiliate of Palo Alto-based Essex Properties Trust Inc. has acquired the 468-unit Villa Venetia apartments from San Francisco-based Carmel Partners for $74 million, according to Scott Davis of the Costa Mesa office of Moran & Co., who brokered the sale.

Davis describes the complex, which is at 2775 Mesa Verde Dr. East as just a few minutes from the ocean, completely refurbished and about two miles from shopping and entertainment venues in the South Coast Metro area of Orange County. Apropos of its name, Davis notes the property features “a Venice-like atmosphere throughout,” including an extensive waterway system with lakes, canals and views for the majority of the apartment residents. The Villa Venetia, built in 1972, was 95% occupied at the time of the sale.

The seller, who acquired the property not quite three years ago, pulled off a value-added play with a complete renovation of building exteriors and rebuilding the 11,000-sf clubhouse at a cost of $1.6 million. Improvements also were made to unit interiors, added crown molding, two-tone paint scheme, five-inch baseboards, granite tile fireplace surrounds, new cabinet doors and drawers, new plumbing and electrical fixtures, Berber carpeting and removal of acoustic spray popcorn ceilings, which were replaced with smooth-trowel finishes, Davis notes.

The unit mix includes 64 studio apartments, averaging 480 sf each; 232 one-bedroom units, ranging from 600 sf to 800 sf; 148 two-bedroom units of 910 sf to 1,120 sf; and 24 three-bedroom apartments of 1,120 sf to 1,456 sf. Monthly rents range from $995 to $2,325. Davis points out the Villa Venetia was built to a density of approximately 20 units per acre, a low density that would be difficult to reproduce today.

Among the features are a fitness center, 17-seat movie theater, two saunas, conference and business centers and billiards room. Additional on-site amenities include three swimming pools, two lighted tennis courts and sand volleyball court.

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