TORRANCE, CA-Amstar Group, a Denver-based real estate private equity firm with other interests in the Los Angeles area, has acquired the 143,000-sf Torrance Center North office building from the NSLP Inc. division of Citibank for $20.3 million. The purchase returns the investment group to the L.A. office market after it sold its interest in Colorado Center in Santa Monica to Equity Office last year.

Torrance Center North occupies a site on Western Avenue, adjacent to the US headquarters of American Honda near the US headquarters of both Toyota and Nissan. American Honda and Western Medical are two of the major tenants in the project, which was 38% occupied at the time of the sale.<pPThe Torrance purchase is "on the low end of our target size," according to D. Scott Gibler, executive director of the Amstar Group. He says the building represents a value-added investment because Amstar believes that the Torrance Center North project "has been penalized in the market due to undercapitalized ownership and financially handcuffed management." Amstar's plan involves aggressive leasing in an improving office market and upgrading the appearance of the property, Gibler says.

Amstar CEO Gabe L. Finke says that the group, which has more than $300 million of its own discretionary equity available for investment, plans to place approximately $1.5 billion in leveraged equity investments over the next few years. Amstar completed or placed under contract more than $1 billion in transaction activity in 2004 in office, multifamily and hotel deals. Its acquisition of the Torrance building was brokered by Secured Capital Corp.’s Stephen Somer, Jay Borzi and Steve Silk. As leasing agents for the property, the new owners have named Colliers Seeley International’s Stephen Cramer, Eric Lastition, Geoff Ludwig and Doug Brawn.

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