Seeking to expand its real estate activity on the West Coast, a Pittsburgh conglomerate has acquired the property development and management operations of Santa Ana-based Hutton Associates and most of the 45-acre Hutton Center office building complex in Santa Ana for $65 million.
The acqusition was completed March 1 by Schneider Pacific Inc., a Los Angeles arm of the Schneider Group of Companies, a privately-held Pittsburgh enterprise with diverse business interests that include heavy construction, power plants, oil and engineering. As part of the sale arrangement, a new company, Schneider/Hutton, was formed to carry on the former real estate development and management activities of Hutton Associates, said Schneider Pacific's president, Edward Schrum.
Schrum said the Schneider Group, which moved into the California real estate field two years ago when it established a chain of commercial brokerages, expects to build upon the operations of Hutton Associates, whose activity was confined to Southern California. He said the Schneider Group intends to invest substantially in the new company's growth and expand its business statewide.
Schrum said the Hutton acquisition, including the absorption of 25 former Hutton Associates employees, "gives us entry into two new fields of development and property management."
For Hutton Associates, the sale was a major step toward achieving a goal of Betty Hutton Williams, the 72-year-old chairwoman of the company, who wants to liquidate the company's assets before her retirement, according to Christopher Felix, former president of Hutton Associates. Felix has been retained as president of Schneider/Hutton.
In the March 1 transaction, Felix said, Schneider acquired one of the 8-story twin tower office buildings at Hutton Center. Also included in the purchase at Hutton Center, he said, is a 10-story office building currently under construction, two restaurants and 12 acres of undeveloped land.
Not included, he said, is the second 8-story twin building, which Hutton Associates sold last July, a 3.5-acre site on which Doubletree Hotels is constructing a 173-room, 6-story hotel, and a 7-acre parcel that is being retained by the Hutton Trust.
Hutton Center was developed as a joint venture between Irvine-based builder Robert Warmington and Hutton Associates, which bought out Warmington's interest in 1983.