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Commercial real estate investor seeks to transform Los Angeles

A Bel Air-based holding company has been quietly acquiring commercial real estate in the past year, looking to transform old buildings into new residential units and hotels. The firm's founder has credited his ability to acquire the 10 buildings quickly to knowing the market and being able to pay cash for the properties.

However, with investments in other places as well, the founder admits that the road that has led him to this attempt at transforming downtown Los Angeles has not always been a smooth one. Currently, a developer that he partnered with in acquiring the first three properties has filed a claim against the firm, alleging that he was cut out of the deals in spite of a partnership agreement. The firm argues that there was never a written agreement with the developer in place.

In addition, as some of the projects that are in the works will involve adaptive reuse conversions -- the act of using an old building for a purpose other than what it was intended for -- the firm likely faces construction issues and a bit of compromise with area stakeholders.

Commercial real estate is a complex issue. Many problems can arise, including everything from contract disputes relating to the real estate purchase agreement or business agreements involved in the investment to the failure to disclose the conditions of a building or its infrastructure. Many of these issues can be resolved outside of court through alternative dispute resolution methods that are designed to avoid the courtroom, such as mediation.

Mediation involves an experienced third-party negotiator who will sit down with both sides and attempt to find a settlement or agreement that both can accept. In cases where there is a potential for compromise, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution are used in order to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation and to relieve some of the burden from the court system.

Source: Los Angeles Downtown News, "Downtown's Quiet Bel Air Buyer," Ryan Vaillancourt, June 25, 2013

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