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SANTA FE SPRINGS, CA-Birtcher Development & Investments of Irvine has acquired a 608,220-sf warehouse and distribution property here from Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. for $68 million in a joint venture with an institutional investor represented by Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers. The property, which sits on nearly 23 acres at 9400 Santa Fe Springs Rd., is occupied by a single tenant, Liz Claiborne, and serves as a West Coast distribution center for the apparel retailer.

Shannon Hondl, senior vice president of acquisitions and development for Birtcher, calls the property ” a strategic and valuable addition to our portfolio due to its location and size.” The building is in the Mid-Cities market, an industrial submarket that includes portions of Los Angeles and Orange counties and is a target market for Birtcher, according to Hondl.

The property sale was brokered by Clyde Stauff, a senior vice president at Colliers International’s Orange County office, who represented both Birtcher/Cornerstone and Northwestern. The building previously traded for about $45 million in late 2004 when Northwestern bought it, according to a GlobeSt.com report at the time.

The property at 9400 Santa Fe Springs Rd. was first developed in 1980 as the headquarters for the former Fedco, a food and wholesale company. The building was redeveloped into nearly double its original size 10 years later, and, after the dissolution of the food wholesaler in 2000, Liz Claiborne leased the property.

Santa Fe Springs and other submarkets in the Mid-Cities area, which is also referred to as the Mid-Counties area by some brokerage firms, are popular locations for companies wanting to distribute products throughout Southern California. The latest market reports from Colliers show the Mid-Counties area with an inventory of 103 million sf of industrial, a direct vacancy rate of 1.8% and a total availability rate of 3.8%.

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