This building at 2515 Napa Valley Corporate Dr. in Vines Business Center was one of four Lowenberg Corp. acquired. (courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield)

NAPA -- A San Francisco-based commercial real estate investor expanded its North Bay holdings with the purchase of four south Napa wine warehouses with 239,000 square feet of space all together.

With the purchase of Vines Business Center at 2511--2515 Napa Valley Corporate Dr. and Bordeaux Centre at 2545--2557 Napa Valley Corporate Dr., Lowenberg Corp. now owns 1.1 million square feet in 15 buildings in Napa and Solano counties, making it one of the largest owners of industrial space in the North Bay, particularly in Napa Valley, according to Glen Dowling, part of the Cushman & Wakefield team that brokered the sale.

"This was the largest transaction that has taken place in this market this year," he said. "There was a great deal of interest in these properties, and there has been a tremendous amount of activity on the investment sales front in the region."

Lowenberg owns more than 900,000 square feet in 12 buildings in southern Napa Valley and 200,000 square feet in three Fairfield buildings. The company's total portfolio is about 4.5 million square feet.

"This acquisition is part of our business plan to expand our regional holdings," said principal Susan Lowenberg. "Our strategy has been to dispose of properties not in the Northern California market, as well as older properties in general, and re-invest here. We are starting to see rent growth and substantial value appreciation in Northern California real estate."

Constructed in 1997, Bordeaux Centre has two one-story warehouses totaling 150,000 square feet. Vines Business Center was built eight years ago, two-building concrete tilt-up flex/industrial complex on seven acres.

Both properties are fully leased. Major tenants are Ca'Momi Wine, Bergin Glass Impressions, Falcor Wines, Free Flow Wines and Spelletich Family Wine Co.Warehouse vacancy less than 2%

"With an industrial vacancy of less than 2 percent in Napa, there is strong demand for well-leased industrial product, and there is also a significant amount of 1031 exchange money out there this year," Mr. Dowling said.

Such low vacancy is spurring a wave of new industrial construction in Napa Valley and Solano County.

Lowenberg acquired the latest properties in a Section 1031 exchange completed in December. The seller was a fund managed by Irvine-based LBA Realty, which acquired a number of Napa Valley properties with the acquisition of Bedford Property Investors.

In Napa, LBA continues to own Vintner Place, which has nearly 68,000 square feet of flex-type and light-industrial space at 860--870 Napa Valley Corporate Way, as well as three nearby industrial parcels totaling more than 11 acres.