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Major L.A. Landlord Buying California Market Center

Times Staff Writer

California Market Center in downtown Los Angeles, the cornerstone of Southern California’s apparel and fashion industry, is being purchased for a reported $135 million.

Jamison Group, perhaps the largest privately held office landlord in Los Angeles, is in escrow to buy the 3-million-square-foot complex from Hertz Investment Group, said Hertz President Judah Hertz. The sale is expected to close early next year.

Jamison is owned by physician and investor David Y. Lee, a Korean immigrant who has been acquiring Los Angeles-area properties since 1995. The company owns about 16 million square feet in more than 60 properties, including the Los Angeles World Trade Center downtown, Equitable Plaza on Wilshire Boulevard and the Herbalife building in Inglewood.

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Hertz bought California Market Center, then known as the California Mart, for about $90 million in 2000.

A Jamison representative declined to comment on the pending purchase, but two garment industry publications valued the sale at $135 million.

The complex is the largest wholesale center in the region, with more than 1,000 showrooms in three main, interconnected 13-story buildings at 9th and Los Angeles streets. The California Mart, which opened in 1963, was so popular that it had a waiting list of tenants for many years.

Consolidations and bankruptcies in the department store industry in the 1980s significantly reduced the number of wholesale buyers that patronized the mart, said Ilse Metchek, executive director of the California Fashion Assn., who used to manage the property. The building now is 60% to 70% leased.

Hertz changed the name of the property to California Market Center in 2001 when DMG World Media agreed to lease more than 1 million square feet with the intention of bringing in gift-industry subtenants.


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