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BEVERLY HILLS, CA-Astani Enterprises has sold five former Banco Popular office and retail buildings to five separate buyers for $13.5 million after re-tenanting the properties and raising rents. Shane Astani tells GlobeSt.com that the Beverly Hills-based investment and development firm acquired the five properties in a portfolio buy from Banco Popular in May of 2006 with a business plan that called for repositioning and then selling them.

The five properties were all fully occupied at the time of the sales. They included a 10,489-sf building at 2133 W. Beverly Blvd. in Montebello, an 8,043-sf building at 6001 E. Washington Blvd. in Commerce, a 9,721-sf building at 11101 La Reina Ave. in Downey, an 8,037-sf building at 131 W. Anaheim St. in Wilmington and a 20,000-sf building at 7021 Greenleaf Ave. in Whittier.

Astani Enterprises acquired the five locations when Banco Popular was relocating and consolidating some of its operations in Anaheim. The bank was looking for a buyer to acquire all five of the buildings in sale-leasebacks, with more than half of the space vacant and with the bank planning to eventually move out of some of the properties.

“Basically what we did was renovate and retenant the buildings, in some cases selling them to owner-users, like the buyer who acquired the Downey building,” Astani explains. The buyer, a doctor, occupies the second floor and has kept Banco Popular as a tenant on the first floor.

Although a significant amount of space in the buildings was vacant at one time, the improving Los Angeles area office market filled the vacancy at higher rates than the buildings had previously commanded. “The office leasing market has heated in the last year or so, and we were the beneficiary of that,” Astani says. “We were able to get higher than budgeted and projected rents in almost all of the buildings.

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