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Development firm buys, will revamp historic bank building

PASADENA - A Los Angeles real estate development firm has acquired the historic Citizens Business Bank building in downtown Pasadena and plans to upgrade the building and its energy systems.

The Barker Pacific Group-led partnership - which also includes investors John and Eric Luna - has already started painting the interior of the east Colorado Boulevard building, said Michael Barker, managing director for Barker Pacific Group.

"We're not really sure what work needs to be done, but we're probably going to spend a half million to a million dollars,' he said. "The building appealed to us because of its location and the fact that it's historical. We thought it would be a good investment.'

Barker said the building is sound but in need of some improvements. Upgrades likely will include new heating and air conditioning systems, as well as other interior renovations.

The seven-story, 55,000-square- foot building at the corner of east Colorado Boulevard and Marengo Avenue is 95-percent occupied, and all current tenets will remain, Barker said.

"We're not planning any changes to the tenant mix, but we do have some empty spaces we'd like to fill,' he said.

Citizens Business Bank occupies about 40 percent, or 23,000 square feet, of the building. Other tenets include Smith Brothers, Pasadena's leading restaurateur that operates the popular Arroyo Chop House and Parkway Grille; Onyx Architects; Property Condition Assessments and several professional-service firms.

D. Linn Wiley, president and CEO of CVB Financial Corp., holding company for Citizens Business Bank, said the company opted to sell because it occupies less than 50 percent of the building.

"The building requires property management and we prefer not to be in the property management business for others,' he said. "This sale will relieve us of that responsibility.'

Next month, Citizens will begin construction on a $5 million, 20,000-square-foot Citizens Bank building at Colorado Boulevard and Catalina Avenue in Pasadena.

The company previously operated a branch there in an older building, but that branch was merged into the historic building on east Colorado so the new location could be built, Wiley said.

"The old building wasn't up to our standards or Pasadena's standards," he said. "We're also going to move our trust department to the new location. We should be in there by April 2006."


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