Former William Morris Headquarters Sold for $47.8 Million (Exclusive)
William Morris Agency's former Beverly Hills headquarters has been sold for $47.8 million. Los Angeles-based real estate investor CIM Group purchased the iconic two-building property at 150 and 151 El Camino Drive from Brickman, a New York real estate investment firm.
The three-story, 116,000-square-foot complex is situated on more than an acre and houses some offices of WME, the successor agency to William Morris. The Dec. 9 deal breaks down to $412 per square foot -- considered a market-rate transaction for a Class A commercial property in Beverly Hills. The buildings are one block from the city's Rodeo Drive shopping area and near WME's 9601 Wilshire Blvd. headquarters, which the agency has occupied since April 2009.
"You are one block out of the Golden Triangle, one of the best markets in Los Angeles, which attracts a lot of entertainment-related clients," said Bob Safai of commercial real estate brokerage Madison Partners, who represented Brickman in the deal.
In September 2008, William Morris sold the two buildings and another at 150 S. Rodeo Drive to investor Cape Horn Group for $143 million, or $783 per square foot. Despite the quality of the asset, the price paid by the Chilean company was considered high. Brickman, which was Cape Horn’s lender on the deal, later acquired the properties from the company via a deed in lieu of foreclosure transaction. Brickman sold the Rodeo property to Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm Douglas Emmett Inc. in April for $42 million.
While the 151 El Camino Drive building is vacant, the 150 building is fully occupied. WME houses its music division in much of that building; the company plans to move out of the space, though there is no timetable for vacating it.
At the time of the September 2008 property sale, William Morris said it would stay at the El Camino property until a new Beverly Drive building it planned to occupy was complete. However, the agency's 2009 merger with Endeavor changed those plans.
WME backed out of a lease agreement to occupy the new building, built by New York-based commercial real estate firm George Comfort & Sons. MGM now occupies the 235-269 N. Beverly Drive building, though WME's dispute with the developer was the subject of an arbitration.
THR reported in July that WME has appealed an arbitrator's ruling that George Comfort violated its lease with the agency by allowing Gersh, a competitor, to move to another Comfort-owned building next door to the proposed WME site, but this breach was not material enough to warrant WME walking out on the lease. The result of WME's appeal has not been made public, and it is unclear what damages WME must pay to the developer, if any.
CIM Group declined to comment. Brickman did not respond to emails seeking comment.