An investment group headed by Los Angeles developer Wayne Ratkovich is on the verge of buying the former Alhambra headquarters of engineering firm C.F. Braun for about $75 million.
Ratkovich’s plans for the landmark walled compound could create one of Los Angeles’ largest office complexes, with eventually 2 million square feet of low-rise office space and a new retail center. The purchase of the 45-acre property on Fremont Avenue from Santa Fe (U.S. Holdings) Inc. could be completed as early as today.
“We believe there is going to be enormous growth in Southern California in the next 10 years,” Ratkovich said. “Urban infill projects like this are going to have a substantial increase in value.”
Ratkovich would buy the property, located five miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley, in partnership with affiliates of the Capital Markets Group of First Union National Bank and Lehman Bros. Starwood Financial Inc. will finance the acquisition.
The complex--which features towering brick walls and a large landscaped plaza--includes about 20 structures that total about 900,000 square feet. Half of the space is vacant and the remainder is leased to a variety of tenants, including Pacific Bell Information Services, USC, Perot Systems and PropertyFirst.com.
The campus was built in the 1920s by engineer Carl F. Braun, whose firm designed oil refineries and petrochemical plants around the world. The company remained under family control until 1980, when it became part of Santa Fe International, an oil services company that was in turn acquired by the kingdom of Kuwait. C.F. Braun was sold to Dallas-based Halliburton in 1989.
Santa Fe International moved its headquarters to Dallas in 1993, leaving a large part of the campus vacant.
Ratkovich said 1000 South Fremont, as the project is now known, is also well-positioned to take advantage of the high demand for low-rise, suburban office space. He said the new owners will first focus on leasing the vacant space and building an adjacent retail center before undertaking new office construction.
The vintage brick buildings and campus-like grounds have made the property a popular location for movies and television programs. It is featured regularly on the popular Fox television series, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”