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[IMGCAP(1)]LOS ANGELES-Lowe Enterprises Investors has acquired a fully leased 266,396-sf distribution facility in Central Los Angeles for $31.5 million and, in a separate deal, Valassis Direct Mail has leased 235,000 sf of distribution space in the Commerce submarket. The more than 501,000 sf of space that was in play in the two deals illustrates what brokers and market-watchers describe as a continuing demand for warehouse and distribution space in the Los Angeles Basin, especially in centrally located projects like the Lowe acquisition and the Commerce property.

The new Lowe Enterprises Investors asset is at 2652 Long Beach Ave. in the Alameda Corridor, just south of Downtown L.A., and is fully leased until mid-2010. Lowe bought the complex from an institutional owner on behalf of an investment client.

Bleecker Seaman, managing director at Lowe Enterprises Investors, describes the “consistently in high demand” for space in the Central Los Angeles submarket, which “is the center of the region’s food and produce industry as well as the hub of the area’s distribution network,” he points out. Opportunities to acquire such properties are rare, he adds.

Lowe Enterprises plans to invest more than $5 million in the facility to improve its common areas and office space and to enhance its functionality for food and produce businesses. At some point in the future if the space becomes available for lease, Lowe has developed a plan to convert a portion of the space from dry warehouse to cooler/freezer space, according to Lynda Cook, senior vice president, Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group, who led the firm’s acquisition of the facility. She notes that the building offers the flexibility to subdivide it into smaller spaces to accommodate multiple tenants.

Lowe Enterprises will assume property management of the facility as well as lead the execution of the capital improvement program. Lowe staff handled the acquisition, with the seller represented by David Fults, Brian McLoughlin, Scott Heaton and Patrick Barnes from the CB Richard Ellis Central Los Angeles office.

[IMGCAP(2)]In the Commerce transaction, Valassis Direct Mail Inc. signed a 10-year lease for the entire 235,000 sf of a building at 5500 Olympic Blvd., between Goodrich Boulevard and Gerhart Avenue. The 235,000 sf includes 36,538 sf of office space.

Valassis, which is a national marketing services company, was represented by Greg Dyer and Tres Reid in the Torrance office of CB Richard Ellis. The building owner, Telacu Industries, was represented by Jeff Stephens, John Privett and Cameron Merrill of the Commerce office of CB Richard Ellis. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed; published asking rates for the space are 44 cents per sf per month.

The transaction constitutes “one of a few sizeable lease transactions in the Commerce market this year” and the second significant lease for Telacu, which ownsseveral buildings in the market, Stephens notes. Telacu Industriesis a for-profit family of companies that provides the economic means to fulfill Telacu’s nonprofit community development activities. Telacu is an East Los Angeles-based nonprofit community development corporation that was founded in 1968.

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