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MISSION VALLEY, CA-Newport Beach-based the Irvine Co. took another major step into San Diego County with its $182.5 million acquisition of Villa Dorado at Mission Valley Apartments. The deal is the largest single property multifamily deal in San Diego this year and believed to be the largest in the county’s history, according to Kevin Mulhern of CB Richard Ellis.

Mulhern, along with Dixie Hall, also of CB Richard Ellis, represented New York-based ING Clarion Partners in the deal. Mulhern tells GlobeSt.com that the seller was “an internal partnership” of ING clients, with 50% held by a private REIT and 50% held by a separate account client. The REIT “was being folded,” according to Mulhern, prompting the sale.

Irving, TX-based JPI developed the luxury multifamily property in the late 90s, selling it to ING in 2000. The site includes 668 garden-style units. Rob Greer, senior director for ING says the property had been a strong investment, but the sale allows “our clients to take advantage of an extremely attractive opportunity to re-deploy their investment assets.” Neither Greer nor Mulhern elaborated on what ING’s exact plans are for the reinvestment.

The deal is significant because “the market is transitioning a little bit,” according to Mulhern. “(San Diego) had been among the 2-3 hottest condo markets from 2003-2005, but that business has pretty much ground to a halt. We’ve seen a predictable condo hangover, with not as much volume in (multifamily) investments as compared to previous years.”

He says this deal is a good sign as the market is “recalibrating.” So many sellers pulled the trigger in recent years, but the Villa Dorado sale points to what many experts have said: there’s no shortage of capital; only a shortage of sellers.

For the Irvine Co., the multifamily purchase adds to the firm’s bullish attitude toward the region’s office market. In recent times, the company has aggressively been building an impressive San Diego office portfolio, stockpiling trophy properties in the CBD.

According to company officials, the firm has substantial reinvestment activities under way as well. These include $63 million of reinvestment in six Downtown San Diego office properties in the company’s 4.5-million-sf San Diego County portfolio.

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