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Real Estate Acquisition: Mueller Joins Business Journal

Does my start as real estate reporter for the Business Journal mark the beginning of a shift in Orange County’s commercial and residential fortunes? Consider my recent history.

In Washington, D.C., where I’ve spent most of my adult life, I wrote about the meteoric rise of hundreds of Web companies that were going public and raising millions of dollars.

Later, on the telecommunications beat, I covered the AOL-Time Warner combo, considered then a major turning point for the online world.

To top things off, I got a flavor of the energy markets just at the beginning of Enron’s downfall.

We all know how those turned out.

What does this mean for Southern California’s real estate market?

For the past year, I have been covering national development stories for Crittenden Research, in San Juan Capistrano.

The big national trends I followed are many of the same ones playing out in OC: high-rise condominium development and apartment conversions to condos; the shift from traditional malls to power and lifestyle centers; improving office and industrial markets; and the amazing rise of the nearby Inland Empire for national developers.

Will we see a shift in any of these trends in the upcoming year, and if so, how will OC and its real estate companies fare? I look forward to finding out, and welcome your input as I tackle a dynamic market.

Kirk Roloff, one of the executives behind apartments and shops going up next to a Pasadena rail line, has joined Aliso Viejo-based Shea Properties.

Roloff joins Shea Properties, part of Walnut-based J.F. Shea Co., as senior vice president of acquisition and development. He hails from Colorado’s Archstone-Smith Trust, a real estate investment trust that owns apartments.

Archstone-Smith is spending $60 million in Pasadena to build 346 apartments and about 10,000 square feet of shops next to the Metro Gold Line, where a station is in the works.

Roloff is expected to be part of a similar development push by Shea Properties, which owns apartments and offices.

“In the next four to five years, we expect to spend hundreds of millions” of dollars on apartment and mixed-use projects, Roloff said. “It’s a very substantial amount. We plan to grow the business a bit faster than before.”

Shea Properties plans to target Southern California, Arizona and Denver. The company has plans for about 10 million square feet of office, retail and industrial space, as well as 1,200 apartments.

Another OC developer, Seal Beach-based Olson Co., also is building homes near a transportation hub, Fullerton’s train station.

Last week, Olson broke ground on Founders Walk, a $90 million development in Buena Park next to a planned Metrolink station.

Santa Ana’s Triple Net Properties LLC recently sold buildings in San Diego and Hawaii.

The big one: Emerald Plaza, a 355,000-square-foot high-rise in downtown San Diego, sold for about $123 million.

San Francisco’s RREEF Funds LLC bought the 30-story tower, its second big buy in the city since October.

Torrance-based Kevin Shannon and Carlsbad-based Louay Alsadek, both with Grubb & Ellis Co., represented Triple Net.

Triple Net, which pools together investors on buys, bought the tower in 2004 for $96 million.

In another deal, Triple Net sold Kahana Gateway Center mall and office complex in Maui for $25.5 million.

Triple Net’s investors bought the center in 2002 for $19.4 million.

David Lee of Irvine-based Faris Lee Investments represented buyer Kahana Partners LLC. Rich Walter of Faris Lee and Darryll Goodman of Triple Net represented the tenant-in-common sellers.


Birtcher’s Refi

Irvine’s Birtcher Development & Investments got $20 million from refinancing its Tustin Business Park and used the cash to buy out partner Hanover Financial Co.

Birtcher and Hanover bought the Tustin business park in 2003 from a private investment group.

Brandon Birtcher, who owns the company, said he plans to invest in more industrial projects for smaller tenants, something he calls “incubator” space.

In another project, Birtcher said demolition finished last month on the former Costa Mesa regional headquarters of State Farm Insurance Cos. Birtcher bought the site in the summer for $29 million.

Birtcher said he plans to start construction in January on 300,000 square feet of home furnishings showroom space off the San Diego (I-405) Freeway near Ikea.

His eight-building, $90 million South Coast Home Furnishings Centre should include room for 30 showrooms, shops and eateries. The project is 60% preleased.


Correction

A Nov. 21 listing of the largest industrial leases signed in the third quarter should have said that Zuvich Corporate Advisors Inc. was the tenant representative on a Foothill Ranch lease.

Former Business Journal reporter Mathew Padilla contributed to this column.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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