DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – San Francisco-based Carmel Partners has purchased a three-acre Downtown site slated to be built into a 700-unit apartment complex later this year.

Seller Sonny Astani announced on Monday the $63 million deal, which he said amounted to a record Downtown land sale at $500 per square foot. It was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Carmel Partners’ plan for the project at Eighth Street and Grand Avenue is uncertain, but Astani had been publicly pledging to start construction on the mixed-use development later this year. Astani said he expects the firm to begin construction "within 60 days."

"Being an institution, they don’t need financing," Astani said. "They basically have cash. That’s the beauty of the deal for them."

The entitled project, which Astani had dubbed "Angelena," calls for a 700-unit steel and concrete apartment complex with 36,000-square-feet of ground-floor retail.

A Carmel rep confirmed the acquisition, but company officials were not immediately available for further comment.

“This deal is a testament to the strength of Downtown real estate, which is interesting in light of the economy being still in a recession,” Astani said in a statement. “The low-interest rates have created a unique opportunity for me to sell. In my business, you sometimes take the money off the table.”

Carmel Partners is a national real estate company. It owns eight apartment complexes in Los Angeles County, but none in Downtown, according to the firm’s website. Its nearest office is in Irvine.

Astani said he sold the project in part because of a difficult financing environment, but also to free up funds for other investments. He said he is escrow to buy another Downtown site that would allow a residential development of up to 200 units. He would not reveal the property.