Witkoff extends his reach in LA, investor flips fed-seized Malibu mansion for $70M, and more...

Los Angeles briefs

May.May 01, 2017 09:00 AM

A rendering of 500 Broadway and 1626 Lincoln Boulevard (Koning Eizenberg Architects)

Steve Witkoff makes resi play in Santa Monica

New York developer Steven Witkoff is spreading out his roots in Los Angeles.

His firm, Witkoff Group, is in advanced talks to partner with an undisclosed institutional investor on the development of a 249-unit rental complex at the former Fred Segal site in Santa Monica.

The project’s existing developers, Dune Real Estate Partners and Beverly Hills-based KRE Capital, are expected to remain in the deal, and Witkoff is poised to make a sizable investment in the residential development.

The seven-story, mixed-use project is estimated to cost more than $400 million, sources said.

As part of the deal, the partners would also construct 64 affordable units off-site, which would be owned and operated by Community Corporation of Santa Monica, an affordable housing organization.

Witkoff and partner Howard Lorber recently broke ground on the Edition Hotel in West Hollywood. The property is slated to have 190 hotel rooms, 20 condominium units and nightlife venues.

Maurico Umansky

Fed-seized Malibu mansion sells for $69.9M

Investor Mauricio Oberfeld bought one of Malibu’s largest homes from the U.S. Justice Department last year for $38 million and flipped it for $69.9 million in April.

The deal came close to breaking the record for the priciest home ever sold in Malibu, which was set by the $74.5 million sale of billionaire Howard Marks’ home in 2013.

Oberfeld bought the dilapidated mansion in partnership with Mauricio Umansky, co-founder of Beverly Hills brokerage the Agency, and the pair gave it a big face-lift, sources said.

The two purchased the 15,000-square-foot property from the feds, which seized it from the previous owner, Teodoro Nguema Obiang, the car-loving playboy son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang.

Obiang was accused of using funds stolen from his home country to buy the estate.

He is currently standing trial in France on corruption charges and agreed to relinquish the home, as well as his car and extensive collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia, to settle federal prosecutors’ claims.

While the identity of the new buyer was not clear, the property was purchased by an entity registered in the British Virgin Islands.

LA’s latest EB-5 scam   

Federal agencies raided the homes and office of a California attorney and her father in April amid an investigation into whether the two perpetrated a multi-million-dollar EB-5 visa fraud scheme.

Victoria and Tat Chan allegedly raked in a total of $50 million over 10 years from roughly 100 Chinese investors but never invested the funds on their behalf. Instead, authorities said, the Chans used the money to buy luxury homes for themselves throughout Southern California.

Defrauded investors include fugitives on China’s 100 most wanted list, some of whom were allegedly complicit in the scheme. At least three of the investors successfully obtained green cards, according to an affidavit filed by the FBI.

This is just the latest case of alleged fraud to the EB-5 program, which provides green cards to foreign investors who drop $500,000 or more into U.S. projects, including real estate developments, that result in the creation of at least 10 U.S. jobs.

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