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[IMGCAP(1)]LOS ANGELES-Pacifica Capital Group has launched a new fund to buy out-of-favor assets in the Los Angeles area and has named New York City developer Carol Blum as a partner to head its distressed residential group as part of a plan to reenter the Los Angeles market after staying on the sidelines since selling the last of its L.A. holdings in 2004. Britten Shuford, co-managing partner of both Pacifica Capital Group and Wayans-Pacifica Urban Partnership, tells GlobeSt.com that Pacifica and Wayans-Pacifica already have commitments from private investors and are now approaching institutional investors as well as additional private groups for its new fund, which will be the eighth fund raised by the Los Angeles-based company.

Shuford declined to say how much Pacifica expects to raise, citing confidentiality agreements, but Pacifica in the past has raised sufficient capital to acquire millions of square feet of properties in Los Angeles and other markets. One Southern California office and industrial portfolio that it sold in 2004, for example, totaled four million square feet.

Shuford says that Blum, pioneer developer/designer in SoHo and Tribeca who has completed more than 40 real estate projects in New York City, is now spending about four days a week in Los Angeles and is planning to move to L.A. He notes that in addition to her development deals, she has worked on more than $500 million in bank workouts in California and New York. In addition to bringing on Blum as a partner, Pacifica has appointed LEED certification pioneer Robert Watson as senior adviser to lead the firm’s sustainability practices.

One reason that the new fund will focus on Los Angeles is that “We think the L.A. market is correcting faster than the New York market, so we think the opportunties will be here sooner,” Shuford says. He notes that Pacifica has invested in some of Blum’s deals in the past and she has invested in Pacifica deals as well.

[IMGCAP(2)]Pacifica, which is owned and operated by Shuford and Andy Carpiac, was founded in 1982 and has acquired or developed in excess of 15 million square feet of properties. Clifford Lord Jr., who joined Pacifica as a partner and principal in 1995, recently returned from running Pacifica’s Madrid operations in Spain and is now involved in the firm’s daily Los Angeles operations. Shuford notes that, after acquiring large portfolios in previous down cycles, most recently in the mid-1990′s, the firm sold the last of its Southern California commercial real estate portfolio in late 2004.

“We have been patiently waiting on the sidelines ever since,” Shuford tells GlobeSt.com. He says that Pacifica has always followed a contrarian business plan, building its portfolio when the market is out of favor and selling when values rise.

Pacifica’s partnership with the Wayans Brothers, of television and movie fame, is called Wayans-Pacifica Urban Development Partnership. Keenen Ivory Wayans, co-managing partner of Wayans-Pacifica with Shuford, points out that the two formed their partnership in 2006 but “have remained disciplined and chose not to invest in what we viewed as a severely overheated market.”

In addition to its investment activities, Pacifica operates a wholly owned brokerage and advisory arm. The brokerage formerly was known as Leonard & Ohren but changed its name recently to SCO Strategic Advisory and Brokerage. The firm, which represents institutional and private landlords as well as tenants in the South Bay and West Los Angeles, changed the name in part to reflect the passing of Pacifica co-founder, Steven Ohren, who died of cancer in July last year.

Steve Leonard, who built the $750 million Pacifica Holding Co. office, industrial and retail portfolio in Denver that sold in 1998, is involved in the Los Angeles operation and is leading investment pursuits in Denver and Las Vegas. Leonard is also running Pacifica Capital Investments, a money management firm based in San Diego.

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