Pacific Union International Brings its Commercial Brokerage to L.A.

Mega Real Estate Merger – COMPASS Buys Pacific Union International.

Pacific Union International Brokerage was established in 1974 as a complement to the residential side of business. More than 40 years later—and on the heels of merger with local powerhouse brokerages John Aaroe Group, Partners Trust and Gibson International—the firm has officially launched its Commercial Brokerage in L.A. with a team of 40 professionals headed by President Stephen Pugh, plus the ability to tap in to 50 offices and 1,700 real estate agents statewide. Here, the new entity’s operations manager, Robert Fitzgerald, discusses the move, along with his take on L.A.’s up-and-coming commercial areas and more.

And in late 2018, COMPASS, riding on the coat-tails of Japanese Softbank and investors, this acquisition makes this the third-largest residential retail brokerage in the United States. 

Why is LA Ripe for a Commercial Brokerage?

Why is it the right time to bring a new commercial brokerage to L.A.? The commercial real estate market is booming. The region is gaining traction in a variety of areas, from business expansion and low office-vacancy rates to an increase in land sales and strong activity at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Where are you located?

Where is the new brokerage located, and why did you choose this area? We’re centrally headquartered in Beverly Hills. The real market advantage for Pacific Union is that we have 22 offices spread out over L.A., and with a commercial team member in every office; Pacific Union Commercial is very neighborhood-centric. We’re able to have a presence in well-established areas such as Venice and Pasadena and in up-and-coming areas such as Highland Park, Baldwin Hills and View Park.

Pacific Union Mission Statement

What is the mission of the new brokerage? We have a unique opportunity to leverage the largest independent real estate brokerage in California to help advise and facilitate commercial sales, acquisitions and leasing services, as well as tenant and landlord representation, to our clients’ advantage. We want to provide a value-added service for our buyers and developers; a world-class platform to showcase our sellers’ properties; and expert local deal knowledge in all transactions.

What Services do you Offer?

What types of services will you offer? The brokerage will focus on investment sales and leasing, with an emphasis on commercial land development, and apartment and commercial sales. We can provide a property or portfolio analysis that focuses on increasing cash flow and value appreciation. Then we can advise on ways to enhance the value of the assets and provide other investment opportunities.

The Background About the Team

Tell me a little bit about the team. With my background in hospitality and mixed-use development, I will be point of contact for all commercial agents and staff in the region, and also will direct brand development and marketing. Our executive vice presidents and regional directors include Tim Byrne, an L.A. native who comes from the real estate pension fund advisory field, and Dario Svilder, an expert in the construction and real estate business.

Type of Clientele does Pacific Union Service?

What types of clients are you targeting? Private and institutional clients and developers who are looking for new, ground-up construction opportunities for apartments, mixed-use and hospitality-related uses. We’re looking for investors who are seeking advice on how to increase their property value in this quickly evolving market. With the influx of Silicon Valley tech companies and the ever-expanding entertainment industry seeking new commercial space, we can advise on how to monetize these new opportunities. We also specialize in 1031 transactions, helping those investors to complete the up-leg of their transaction for stabilized, tax-deferred investment properties.

What Properties Will You Focus On?

What types of properties will you handle? We are a full-service commercial real estate brokerage and have strong representation in all commercial property types, including multifamily, office, retail, industrial, land and development investments. We specialize in development opportunities and apartment and commercial properties.

What are some of your current top listings? 

679 N. Spring St. in Chinatown, which offers 5,700 square feet and is a great land opportunity for mixed-use or hotel development [price undisclosed], as well as an 11-unit Beverly Hills offering for $7.775 million. There’s also
6345 Primrose Ave. (10 units in Hollywood Dell for $4.5 million);
409 & 512 S. Rampart Blvd. (77 low-income housing units for $7.35 million); 8301 Santa Monica Blvd. (a three-tenant retail development/redevelopment site for $13 million);
1306-1316 S. Glendale Ave. (37, 486 square feet of land zoned C3 for $5.5 million);
7038 Sunset Blvd. (33,520 square feet of land zoned C4 for $20.8 million); and 6908 Knowlton Ave. in Westchester (18 newly constructed units for $11 million).

The Hottest Commercial Developments in LA

What’s your take on L.A.’s commercial real estate market right now? The commercial real estate market is really moving, and we anticipate this will continue for the foreseeable future. The hottest commercial development areas right now are Atwater Village, the Frogtown arts district, Highland Park, Chinatown, Boyle Heights, Silicon Beach (which recently welcomed Snapchat) and Playa Vista (where Google recently landed).

What does the new commercial brokerage entity mean for Pacific Union International and L.A.? Expanding the Pacific Union Commercial Brokerage means that we can further serve our clients, and the larger L.A. community, by leveraging the company’s vast residential network to bring our clients’ largest investments—their homes and their commercial assets—under one roof supported by the strong pillars of teamwork, trust and integrity.

Photograph: courtesy of Anthony Barcelo

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