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Developer Plans to Turn Beverly Hills, California Apartment Complex
Purchased for $85 Million into a Luxury Extended-Stay Hotel

To be Called AKA Beverly Hills

By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles TimesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jan. 23, 2012--A Pennsylvania developer has spent $85 million on a Beverly Hills apartment complex it plans to turn into a luxurious extended-stay hotel.

Korman Communities bought the Crescent Beverly Hills apartments from C-III Capital Asset Management. The upscale apartments at 155 N. Crescent Drive were completed in 2006.

When the property reopens this summer, it will be called AKA Beverly Hills. Rent for the AKA's 88 suites will start at about $400 a night and guests must agree to stay a minimum of 30 days, Korman said.

Renovation plans include an upgraded lobby and the addition of a lounge, cafe, fitness center and outdoor space for residents' use.

"AKA Beverly Hills marks our first venture on the West Coast and is part of our overall vision of expanding domestically and abroad," said Larry Korman, principal of AKA and Korman Communities. "Beverly Hills provides the perfect location to introduce Los Angeles to AKA."

There are AKA extended stay hotels in New York, Philadelphia andWashington, D.C., catering to affluent international leisure and business travelers and upscale consumers, Korman said.

Over the next three to five years, Korman Communities plans to add eight to 12 properties to the AKA portfolio in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and London, Korman said. The company, based near Philadelphia, plans to spend as much as $300 million in each market.

Korman's financial partners in Beverly Hills are BlackRock Realty Advisors and the California State Teachers' Retirement System.

--Game maker Electronic Arts renews lease in Playa Vista

Electronic Arts Inc., one of the largest video game publishers in the world, will remain at the Water's Edge office complex in Playa Vista after signing a new lease.

The developer of such well-known game franchises as Madden NFL, the Sims and Battlefield agreed to rent 125,000 square feet in two buildings on Lincoln Boulevard. The value of the deal was not disclosed, but real estate experts familiar with the Playa Vista market estimate it at more than $35 million.

EA helped put Playa Vista on the map in 2003 when it agreed to rent 250,000 square feet at Water's Edge. At that time the young neighborhood south of Marina del Rey was being developed with housing but had no significant commercial component.

EA wanted to consolidate several small development studios in Southern California into its sprawling Playa Vista campus and was hoping to tap into Southern California's digital entertainment workforce, as well as capitalize on the potential partnerships between games and Hollywood films.

It also bought Jamdat Mobile Inc., a Los Angeles mobile game company, for $680 million in 2005, and Pandemic Studios, a game developer in Santa Monica, in 2007.

In recent years, EA has contracted and sublet some of its Playa Vista space as several major projects fizzled and the company was forced to lay off workers. Two of EA's subtenants now have direct leases with landlord Maguire Investments, according to real estate brokerage Industry Partners. The nonprofit X Prize Foundation has 20,000 square feet, and online hotel room broker Luxury Link has about 11,000 square feet.

Industry Partners and brokerage EdgeCore Real Estate Group hope to lease space in Water's Edge to other creative businesses for Maguire. Companies in such fields as entertainment and online shopping have scooped up nontraditional office space near the ocean.

"With little remaining supply, rents in Santa Monica are reaching $5 per square foot per month," said broker Andrew Jennison of Industry Partners. "Other creative office markets such as Playa Vista are benefiting as users with requirements of 10,000 square feet or more cannot find space in Santa Monica."

-- Irvine industrial property sale is largest in O.C. in 2011

The largest industrial property transaction of 2011 in Orange County closed at the end of the year with the $47-million sale of Irvine Crossings, a real estate brokerage said.

Palo Alto real estate investment company Menlo Equities bought the 420,000-square-foot industrial warehouse and data center on 21.7 acres from a limited liability corporation, brokerage Voit Real Estate Services said.

Irvine Crossings at 17871 Von Karman Ave. and 17836 Gillette Ave. is 100% occupied by tenants Savvis Inc. and 3PL Global. Savvis is a cloud computing data center and 3PL is a third-party logistics company providing warehousing and transportation.

roger.vincent@latimes.com

Times staff writer Alex Pham contributed to this report.

___

(c)2012 the Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services NASDAQ:ERTS,



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