Is becoming downtown's biggest landlord such a good thing?

towers.jpgWith a vacancy rate of nearly 18 percent and asking rents slipping 6 percent in the first quarter, the downtown office market is at best lumbering along - a reflection of downsizing by law and accounting firms and a preference among tech-focused businesses for a Westside location. That's why the acquisition of downtown properties by Brookfield Office Properties might seem surprising. But Brookfield is only paying $180 million for MPG Office Trust, formerly known as Maguire Properties Inc., and that's a pretty good deal considering that the NY-based company instantly becomes downtown's dominant landlord for prime office space (Brookfield already owns three office towers). This is a huge purchase in the world of L.A. commercial real estate - "Brookfield buying the rest of MPG's portfolio is like putting together Chrysler, Ford and General Motors," is how real estate honcho John Cushman put it to the LAT . While you do have to wonder how Brookfield intends to handle all that extra space, the company can afford to wait. It's a real estate juggernaut, with assets of more than $20 billion - and downtown L.A. office towers don't often become available even if the current market is tepid. MPG, meanwhile, will be mainly remembered as the company that picked up the remnants of the Maguire empire. From the WSJ:

The deal would bring to an end the long unwinding of a company that was a high-profile casualty of the real-estate bust. The company, previously named Maguire Properties LP after its founder and longtime chief executive Robert Maguire, expanded rapidly in the years before the economic downturn, relying heavily on debt to become one of Southern California's largest office landlords. But values and office demand tumbled with the housing bust, and over the ensuing years, the company gradually surrendered much of its portfolio to creditors as it was unable to pay off debt. Mr. Maguire was ousted by the board in 2010. Last year, it tapped real-estate adviser Eastdil Secured LLC and Bank of America Corp. to help search for a buyer for the company, initially not getting offers at a high enough price, as many buyers were intimated by the substantial costs of leasing up the buildings.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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