The Real Deal Los Angeles

Facing federal charges, Woodbridge Group finds buyer for $44M Bel Air lot

The developer needs court approval for the sale
By Natalie Hoberman | June 20, 2018 12:21PM

Renderings of proposed home at 800 Stradella Road, with Woodbridge Group’s former executive Robert Shapiro (Credit: Hilton & Hyland, Pixabay)

Facing sweeping legal action by the Securities and Exchange Commission following its bankruptcy, Woodbridge Group of Companies is seeking approval for the sale of an empty lot in Bel Air for $44 million, The Real Deal has learned.

The Los Angeles-based real estate developer and its affiliated debtors have filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court requesting approval for the transaction. The firm acquired the lot at 800 Stradella Road for $36 million.

The buyer of the 1.89-acre lot is an LLC named Elite Investment Management Group, according to court records filed Tuesday. In an all-cash deal, the firm agreed to put down $1.32 million as an initial deposit, with the remaining $42.7 million to be paid as a single down payment.

Woodbridge paid Hard Rock Cafe founder Peter Morton $36 million for the vacant lot in January 2017, property records show. (Morton spent $110 million for a home in Malibu earlier this year, breaking L.A. County records.)

Following the 2017 purchase, Woodbridge released stylish new renderings for the vacant site, as it had done with many of its other developments. It listed the home with Tyrone McKillen of Hilton & Hyland for $45 million, but nothing materialized.

Tomer Fridman of Compass brokered the most recent deal.

Robert Shapiro, the former chief executive of Woodbridge, was accused of running a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme on investors late last year. His firm filed for bankruptcy amid the SEC investigation, which later turned into a legal suit.

In March, the now-bankrupt real estate developer solicited top brokers in the city to help unload its entire L.A. portfolio. At the time, three properties were reportedly already in escrow for over $10 million.

The company still holds the iconic Owlwood Estate, formerly owned by Sonny and Cher, in its portfolio. It listed Owlood for twice its purchase price — $180 million — in July 2017.