IRVINE, CA-Chapman University College recently purchased a 117,000-square-foot office building here for more than $20 million in a transaction that ranks as one of the largest office deals to close in Orange County since last summer, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Executive director Jeff Cole of Cushman & Wakefield’s Southern California Capital Markets Group tells that C&W research shows that there were only 12 office transactions over $20 million in Orange County for all of 2008 and that nothing in that range closed after July of last year. That contrasts with 2007, when 64 transactions of more than $20 million closed in the county.

Chapman acquired the three-story, class A office building, which is at 16355 Laguna Canyon Rd. in the Irvine Spectrum, from Prudential Real Estate Investors. Cole and executive director Greg Brown headed a Cushman & Wakefield team including David Dowd and Ed Hernandez that represented Prudential, which sold the property on behalf of institutional investors, with Chapman represented by Cushman & Wakefield executive director Alex Hayden.

Cole tells that Chapman, one of a number of schools and universities that have been expanding lately as enrollments rise during the recession, will use the Laguna Canyon Road building for offices and classrooms. Built in 1998, the building is situated on a parcel of about 6.6 acres.

The sale was an off-market deal in which Cushman & Wakefield approached a select group of investors and potential owner-users of the building, which Prudential had owned for about 10 years. Cole says that he was pleasantly surprised that the property sold relatively quickly in what is an otherwise sluggish market for office sales.

“We started talking to potential buyers in the middle of December, so it moved quickly considering the market,” he says. He notes that the deal also closed quickly because the seller wanted a quick close and Chapman was able to pay all cash.

The building previously was occupied by a personnel services firm called CPS, which moved elsewhere in Irvine. Chapman hopes to move into the building this summer after a buildout of its offices and classrooms.

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