The sales of 20 mostly office buildings in Marin and Sonoma counties, totaling 951,000 square feet, by Chicago-based Equity Office and Berg Holdings of Sausalito is moving closer to completion.

Equity Office received multiple offers by the May 25 bid deadline for its 15 Marin buildings totaling nearly 711,000 square feet of class A office space, according to real estate sources familiar with the effort. Eastdil Secured's San Francisco office is directing marketing of the properties.

"I heard most of the offers were surprisingly higher than expected, and they were all institutional (investors)," one source said.

As previously reported ["Large Marin, Sonoma office properties for sale," May 14], Equity Office put the Marin portfolio out for sale bids without fanfare in April. The six complexes have had among the highest levels of occupancy among class A buildings in the market because of aggressive marketing in the past few years, and those properties have been leading a strengthening in Marin office rents.

Best-and-final sales offers were expected back Friday, according to a source. After final negotiations, escrow may open with the winning bidder by early July.

Meanwhile, Berg Holdings called for offers May 24 on two portions of a 248,000-square-foot office and retail portfolio, according to the investment firm's agent, San Francisco-based Aaron Herter of Jones Lang LaSalle's Capital Markets Group. 

The San Rafael part has the 78,000-square-foot vacant 1 Thorndale Dr. building atop a San Rafael knoll.

The Santa Rosa part has four buildings in the Stony Point Lake business park on the west side of the city and 100 B St. downtown.

Berg was set to decide by Friday whether it would select buyers and open 60- to 90-day escrows, according to Mr. Herter.

Local agents involved in Berg Holdings marketing are Brian Eisberg of Cornish & Carey Commercial Newmark Knight Frank for 1 Thorndale and Shawn Johnson of Keegan & Coppin/ONCOR International for the Santa Rosa properties.***

Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts was built as a tourism magnet for wine and food exploration in Napa Valley, and the nearly 80,000-square-foot shuttered facility itself has been undergoing an public exploration about its next incarnation. A conference center has been discussed in recent months as such a new use for the building, which features two indoor theaters, an outdoor amphitheater and a restaurant.

The Dowling-Bracco Team of Cushman & Wakefield in San Rafael just won the marketing contract for the facility and is positioning the two-story, steel-framed building at 500 First St. as a potential corporate headquarters site. A possible space plan for the building shows how the former exhibition space could be reconfigured for 18,500 square feet of office space on the first floor and nearly 32,000 square feet of offices on the top floor.***

Part of the fallout from the Grubb & Ellis bankruptcy has been the move of longtime Napa-Solano industrial real estate agents Bret DeMartini and Chris Petrini from the Walnut Creek office to Colliers International's Fairfield office in May....

Submit items for this column to Business Journal Staff Writer Jeff Quackenbush, or 707-521-4256.