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Barker Pacific Group and WHI Purchase Lava Ridge Business Center

Joint investors from Chicago and Southern California have made their first foray into the Sacramento region with the purchase of a Roseville office complex.

Lava Ridge Business Center, a three-building property of 182,302 square feet, sold to Barker Pacific Group and Chicago-based WHI Real Estate Partners LP for $27.6 million, according to property records. Escrow closed late last month.

"We've been looking at the greater Sacramento market for the last couple of years," said Michael Barker, managing director at Los Angeles-based Barker. The partners like the relative affordability of Sacramento-area properties compared to the Bay Area or Southern California, he said, and the demographics in Roseville are strong.

"It's a very low investment risk with high upside," he said.

Built in 2000 on about 12 acres at 2990, 3000 and 3010 Lava Ridge Court, Lava Ridge has three two-story buildings close to Roseville's popular retail centers, Westfield Galleria and Fountains at Roseville. The business center is currently just under 80 percent occupied, but leasing activity has picked up since the sale closed, Barker said.

The property's previous owner, listed in sale records as Property Reserve Inc., was an out-of-town investor that was somewhat neglectful, Barker said. While the buildings are still in great shape, he said, the new ownership is planning an upgrade budget in the millions of dollars. That will include a revamped lobby in one building and the creation of an outdoor picnic area, he said.

"It just needs some lipstick," he said, adding later, "Our company is a bit smaller, so when we take on an asset, we try to do it with gusto."

Barker said he's also bullish on the prospects for leasing. While Sacramento is not on the radar as much as a city like Dallas as a candidate for company relocations, he said, there is the strong possibility of Bay Area firms establishing offices here because of the lesser costs and good metrics.

The joint investment is also working to buy another Sacramento-area asset, Barker said.

Palmer Capital brokered the deal and helped arrange financing, according to a news release. Chris Lemmon and Zac Collie of Newmark Cornish & Carey are heading up leasing.

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