Montclair Acquisition Fund LLC — which includes about 35 investors — purchased 88,000 square foot of space and 90 parking spaces from Larry Chan. The sale excludes the Asian Branch Library, Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 200 condominiums and 50 rental housing units.
One of the investors is pharmacist Albert Wong, who co-owns New Oakland Pharmacy. As a tenant, his current lease on the pharmacy is $26,000 per month for about 4,800 square feet of space, he said.
"(We) mainly worked on this project for our community and for the tenants," said Wong, stating that now he and other tenants have the opportunity to own their units.
Wong said about seven of the investors are also current tenants like himself, including several doctors. All local tenants were asked if they wanted to join the investment group, he said.
The purchase includes 55 commercial and retail spaces on two stories of the plaza, which includes shops, restaurant services and a police substation. Loh said the plan is to sell all the units.
To do that, they will need to redraw some of the boundaries in order to subdivide and sell the units.
Tenants who are a part of the limited liability company, or LLC, will have first option to buy, then investors in the limited partnership, then tenants, and then the public.
"By doing this, it becomes a win-win situation," said Loh, referring to the fact that tenantswill now have an opportunity to own their units. But not all tenants are able to afford the minimum $200,000 to invest in the group, or to buy property.
Loh and Wong acknowledge that most of the tenants can't afford to put money upfront, but they are willing to work with tenants who want to keep their space.
They also said their vision is to clean up some of the vacant spaces, improve security and have more community activities. "Our goal is to have Pacific Renaissance Plaza be a vibrant and safe space," Loh said.
Nine of the 55 units are currently vacant, he said.
Some tenants renting commercial space have a long-term lease while others pay on a month-to-month basis.
Jennie Ong, executive director of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, housed on the second floor of the plaza, said they currently rent at a good nonprofit rate.
"In some respect, I am pleased," Ong said about the sale. "We do know these people versus somebody from the outside."
She said that both Loh and Wong have worked in Oakland for a long time and are known in the community. Still, she remains cautious.
"But as you know, business is business," Ong said. "They need to do what they have to do in order to make sure they don't go into the red on this either, as businesspeople."
The Pacific Renaissance Plaza also consists of 200 units of market-rate condos, as well as 50 other housing units, which were formerly affordable rental units. The 50 units were recently sold to the East Bay Asian Local Development Corp. for $4 million.
The housing nonprofit will refurbish and sell those units and create at least 50 affordable rental housing units elsewhere in Chinatown, as part of the city's lawsuit settlement against the original owner.
Contact Momo Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-208-6483.