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British-Led Group Buys San Diego Development

San Diego County Business Editor

Symphony Towers, a full-block project that includes San Diego’s largest office building and a 264-room hotel being built around the San Diego Symphony’s concert hall, was acquired Tuesday for $164 million by a group headed by a British real estate development and investment firm.

A partnership controlled by London & Edinburgh Trust acquired the 1.1-million-square-foot project from Guy F. Atkinson Co., a San Francisco general contracting firm that took it over from Charlton Raynd Development of San Diego in September. Charlton Raynd is a limited partner of the new owner.

Construction of Symphony Towers’ 34-story office building, the centerpiece of the property, is due to be completed in March. The adjoining hotel, also under construction, is scheduled to open in January, 1990. It will be managed by Marriott Corp.

Through the use of giant cantilevers, the project is being built around and over the former Fox Theater, now the property of the San Diego Symphony. Douglas P. Wilson, a Charlton Raynd partner, said Tuesday that the symphony’s arrangement to receive 1 cent per square foot per month of all lease revenue generated by the office building during its first five years of operation will not be affected by the sale.

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Atkinson, the parent company of the project’s general contractor, Walsh Construction, took control of the project in September after Charlton Raynd ran into trouble financing the hotel.

Charlton Raynd, however, kept an option to buy back the property until Jan. 1. The firm joined forces with London & Edinburgh Trust, a publicly owned company based in London, and formed Knightsbridge Associates partnership to reacquire the project from Atkinson.

The project’s financial problems and internal squabbles caused a six-month suspension of construction on the 24-story hotel portion of the project before work finally resumed last month.


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