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Chicago Real Estate Mogul Sam Zell to Speak at Conference

Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell, chairman of Equity Residential and Equity Office Properties Trust, is scheduled to serve as the keynote speaker at the University of San Diego’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate 11th annual real estate conference Jan. 30.

Equity Office is the nation’s largest publicly held office building owner and manager with 590 buildings containing 105 million square feet of office space.

Zell is a self-made real estate tycoon who recently ranked 52 on the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list.

Equity Office owns 10 properties in San Diego, and holdings include Nobel Corporate Plaza in University Towne Center and the Plaza at La Jolla Village in Golden Triangle.

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Since its initial public offering in July 1997, Equity Office has nearly quadrupled in size through a series of mergers and acquisitions totaling $17 billion.

Zell is currently in the middle of a possible merger with another large real estate owner. In November, Zell agreed to merge with the Blackstone Group. A special meeting of shareholders to vote on the merger agreement is scheduled for Feb. 5.

However, on Jan. 22, the Equity Office board said that it had also met to consider a proposal from commercial real estate owner Dove Parent LLC, formed by industry giants Vornado Realty Trust, Starwood Capital Group LLC and Walton Street Capital.

Equity Office has asked the Dove organizations to submit a definitive proposal by Jan. 31 for consideration by Equity Office’s board.

Zell is one of nine speakers set to address the Burnham-Moores conference, and talk about the San Diego market for commercial buildings.

Other speakers include Doug Duncan, chief economist for the Washington, D.C.-based Mortgage Bankers Association and several local executives.

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Proximity To Airport Causes Controversy:

San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre said he would seek action against the officials responsible for the continued development of the controversial Sunroad Centrum 1 high-rise office tower. The project has become highly controversial because of its closeness to Montgomery Field in Kearny Mesa, and the threat it might pose to low-flying aircraft.

Aguirre held a media conference Jan. 23 in front of the construction site as work continued in the background and small general aviation planes flew overhead.

He said he would ask federal prosecutors to investigate possible violations of state and federal law and violations of the stop work notice issued by his office.

Aguirre declined to name city officials who he said acted with “improper behavior” to permit the project to get so far into construction. Full framing has been completed for the 180-foot-tall structure.

Both Aguirre and the Department of Transportation said the structure is more than 20 feet over the height limit set by the California Public Utilities Code and the Federal Aviation Administration standards.

The office building at Kearny Villa Road and Spectrum Center Boulevard has caused much concern for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Community Airfields Association of San Diego and the California Department of Transportation.

“Sunroad Enterprises demonstrated a complete disregard for the safety of San Diegans by blatantly ignoring demands from government agencies to halt the construction of a building looming into federal airspace and threatening air traffic at Montgomery Field,” Aguirre said.

“I acted because of concern of liability and loss of possible funding” Aguirre added.

He said the alleged violations could ultimately result in the cutting off of FAA funding for the airport.

Currently, Montgomery Field is home to 600 airplanes and it shares airspace with the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Lindbergh Field.

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Solar Energy Firm Opens Locally:

San Rafael-based SPG Solar Inc. has opened a local facility to handle its growing workload in San Diego County. SPG Solar designs and builds solar energy systems that range from one kilowatt to one megawatt and serve residential, commercial and government clients.

The local office is comprised of 6,000 square feet and employs regional energy consultants, as well as installation crews and an administrative support team.

Recent installations in San Diego include a system for the new Monterey Ridge Elementary School in Poway and a system for the Vallecitos Water District in San Marcos.

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Building A New School:

The Chula Vista Elementary School District hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Jan. 16 for a new school. The site at the corner of Magdalena Avenue, Peabody Way and Wolf Canyon Loop is to be ready for the 2007-2008 school year.

The $22 million project consists of six buildings with 32 classrooms.

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Upgrading SBC Building:

San Diego-based Roel Construction Inc. is conducting $8 million in tenant improvements for the Irvine Co.’s SBC Building downtown. This 25,000-square-foot project consists of lobby upgrades and tenant improvements to the corridors and restrooms. The project on West Broadway is scheduled for completion next month.


Send real estate news to Michelle Mowad at

mmowad@sdbj.com

. She may also be reached at (858) 277-6359, ext. 3112.

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