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LAS VEGAS-Steve Leonard and Blake Issaccson of Southern California-based Pacifica Capital are eyeing Las Vegas, looking to recreate the success the company had building a large Colorado portfolio in the 1990s. While Pacifica doesn’t yet have anything under contract Issaccson tells GlobeSt.com he has an offer out to acquire an industrial portfolio in the $50 million to $100 million range but declined to be more specific.

“We are value-oriented investors and values are coming back into our strike zone,” Issaccson says. “We will acquire with leverage and with equity from high-net-worth individuals who have been investing with us since the early 1980s, as possibly institutional partners as well. We don’t have checks in our wallet [from these investors] but we have strong commitments and understandings such that we can move aggressively and confidently. We like Las Vegas because it seems to be a little ahead of real estate cycle.”

Looking for an undervalued market in which to reinvest profits from real estate appreciation in Los Angeles in the mid-1980′s, Pacifica “found” Colorado in the late 1980s and, after Leonard moved his residence there from Southern California, built up a plus-5-million-square-foot portfolio of mostly industrial and office assets. In early 1998, Pacifica sold its Colorado holdings for more than $700 million in three sales to REIT’s.

Feeling the real estate market was overvalued, Leonard subsequently began investing his clients’ profits in the stock market instead of real estate. In the late 1990s, with Leonard still focused on stocks, Issaccson acquired some assets in Las Vegas and disposed of them “a few years ago as prices became unstable.” Issaccson says the experience gained and relationships built during that period means its learning curve will be much more flat.

“As today’s market continues to move in our direction, it’s time make another bet on Vegas’ future,” Issaccson says. “This time, by joining Pacifica’s resources with our local contacts and experience, we’ll be better capitalized and able to move on bigger projects with greater certainty.”

One of Isaacson’s partners in those earlier Vegas ventures was John Knott, now executive vice president of CB Richard Ellis’ Global Gaming Group. Knott, who has known both Issaccson and Leonard for decades, tells GlobeSt.com that he and Issaccson acquired several Vegas properties and sold them a few years back, “barely” doing well on one of the properties but doing “very well” on the others.

Knott, who focuses on land and properties in the resort corridor and by all accounts knows it well, says current property values are probably off their peak by 50% to 70%.

“[Pacifica] has a history of identifying markets where they think there is opportunity for improved values over time and given what’s happened in Las Vegas I think this fits very well with their historic philosophy,” Knott says. “[Leonard] had been reluctant to invest in real estate, which he considered overvalued, but now he believes it’s time to start buying again, and [Issaccson] agrees with that.”

In addition to industrial properties Issaccson says the company will consider office and retail investments as well, regardless of whether the seller is an investor or a lender-turned-owner. “It will depend more on the value than who’s selling,” he says. “We will be looking first at price per square foot, then at long-term return on investment—levered cash flow and appreciation.”

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