Bob Shallit

Sale could mean new life for ‘Mercedes’ building

New owners have big plans for boosting occupancy at the Mercedes-Benz building at 1860 Howe Ave.
New owners have big plans for boosting occupancy at the Mercedes-Benz building at 1860 Howe Ave. Bob Shallit

A fitness facility, salon and restaurant could soon be opening at the Mercedes-Benz building on Howe Avenue following its sale to two local investors.

Jeffrey Berger and Vuja Jovic this month paid just over $7 million for the four-story building at 1860 Howe Ave. that has a Mercedes showroom on the first floor and the luxury car company’s logo and name splashed across its top.

The new owners already have letters of intent from several tenants to move in and boost the occupancy rate above its current level of 28 percent, Berger said.

“We should be at 50 percent in 30 days,” he said.

Among those with agreements to move in are a “high-end boutique model (fitness center) where everything is tied to personal training and cardiac monitoring,” said Berger, who declined to identify the gym operator. That same owner intends to operate an adjacent yoga studio.

Also signing a letter of intent is a salon offering hair styling, skin care and massage, he said. In addition, several restaurant operators have expressed “high interest” in the site.

The goal, Berger said, is to recruit high-end service providers for the first floor of the 100,000-square-foot building, then go after office tenants that appreciate those amenities as well as proximity to the upscale auto sales operation.

The building, at Alta Arden Expressway and Howe, had been owned by a local fund that hadn’t had much success filling up the building, Berger said.

“I don’t really understand why it was at 28 percent” occupancy, Berger said, but figures he and Jovic are going to have much better success.

“The opportunity is you have a submarket with 80 percent occupancy, so if we can just get to that standard we’ll do very well,” he said.

Heard on the street

Last year’s merger of engineering design giants Aecom Technology and URS Corp. is finally being felt here with brokers seeking a new Sacramento home for the companies’ combined local operations.

Word is that Aecom, the surviving entity, is looking for between 80,000 and 100,000 square feet in the downtown area – enough space to house employees from the former URS operation in Natomas and Aecom’s existing digs in midt0own.

What downtown locations could handle an operation that large? One possibility is Park Tower at 980 Ninth St., which lost a big tenant, State Street Global Services, in June.

Ads on wheels

Tony Kurtis has run a Sacramento advertising agency since 2001 and a motorcycle and scooter sales operation for the past seven years.

Now he’s started a new venture that combines both of those interests: a mobile billboard company. For $80 an hour, he drives around town on one of his Suzuki Burgman scooters, hauling a trailer with a 60-inch-high plexiglass “sandwich board” touting the merits of various clients.

The response? So far, so good, said Kurtis, who began the service in August after discovering four trailers for sale in Southern California and shipping them here.

He’s the sole driver for now.

“When I’m out there, people are just smiling and waving and giving the thumbs up,” he said. “That translates into getting attention for my clients.”

Clients also get an ambassador on wheels. Often, he said, people speak with him when he is stopped in traffic or fueling up.

“I’m engaging one on one and answering questions about (the client’s) business,” he said. “There’s no other medium in advertising that does that.”

At this point, Kurtis has three customers: Davis Ranch in Sloughhouse, along with Relish Burger and the 36 Handles Pub & Eatery in El Dorado Hills.

He’s now pitching personal injury attorneys, glass companies and other restaurants, convinced he has a novel way to cut through the advertising clutter.

As he put it, “this is a great vehicle, pun intended, for my clients.”