A diverse group of investors, including a U.S. hedge fund, a Canadian alternative asset manager and an evangelical Christian university led by Jerry Falwell Jr., are making big bets on beaten-down shopping centers. Mall owners such as Simon Property Group and General...
Santa Monica, awaiting the Expo Line's launch, re-imagines itself as a model of mobility
Each day, about 80,000 people travel to Santa Monica for work. At the same time, about 45,000 Santa Monica residents head to jobs outside the city. Most drive solo, often on jammed freeways. Even the biggest public-transportation boosters acknowledge that next month's arrival...
San Diego’s biotech trade group Biocom is opening an office in Los Angeles. The trade group’s goal is to help grow the L.A. life science community, which is home to nearly 300 biopharmaceutical and medical device firms, according to Biocom. "Los Angeles as...
L.A. residents are less optimistic about the Los Angeles economy this year than last year as the county’s job growth rate is expected to slow for the remainder of this year and next, according to a survey and forecast to be...
TubeMogul, Inc. leases 3,643 RSF at 429 Santa Monica in Santa Monica. Deal represented by Ron Burkhardt of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.
BLOG & ONLINE NEWS
Bridge Keeps Finding Industrial Development Sites
It seems impossible, but Bridge Development has managed to snag another industrial development site in infill Los Angeles. The developer has purchased a nearly 20-acre land site located at 825 South Ajax Avenue in the City of Industry, and is building...
The 147,346-square-foot Foreman & Clark building in downtown Los Angeles sold to a Bonnis Properties, a private investor for $52 million or $356 per square foot. The 13-story building at 404 W. 7th St. originally built in 1929 as a department store...
Submarket Snapshot: South Park's office market in Q1 2016
In the first quarter of 2016, DTLA’s South Park office submarket saw 15.5 percent vacancy, according to a report by Transwestern. Its vacancy rate was lower than the 17 percent average for the Downtown market and significantly lower than Bunker Hill‘s 20.9...
Grid110 - How a Group of Diverse Entrepreneurs are Shaping the Tech Ecosystem in Downtown LA
Los Angeles has been traditionally known as the center of the entertainment and fashion industries and one of the most multi-culturally diverse cities in the U.S. More recently, Los Angeles has also become home to entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of...
Most U.S. Markets See Declining Office Vacancy, Despite Slight Increase Nationally
Vacancy in the U.S. office market inched up by 10 basis points (bps) during the first quarter of 2016 (Q1 2016), rising to 13.2 percent, according to the latest analysis from CBRE Group Inc. Even with the increase, the national office...
A diverse group of investors, including a U.S. hedge fund, a Canadian alternative asset manager and an evangelical Christian university led by Jerry Falwell Jr., are making big bets on beaten-down shopping centers.
Mall owners such as Simon Property Group and General Growth Properties Inc. in recent years have been shifting their focus to prime properties in desirable locations that generate heavy foot traffic and are attractive to high-end retailers.
That has opened a door for investors who believe the value of second-tier malls has fallen too far, amid growing fears of e-commerce and worries over the supply of retail space.
Such buyers argue that brick-and-mortar malls serve as community hubs in smaller markets even if those malls don’t generate the same sales as rivals in wealthy suburbs. Higher sales often translate into higher rents. And in large metropolitan areas, older malls that have fallen out of fashion often sit on valuable real estate, they contend.
Farallon Capital Management LLC of San Francisco late last month bought three malls in small Southern cities, along with a fourth mall last fall, in Valdosta, Ga. None of the malls generated more than $370 in sales a square foot, according to a person familiar with the matter. High-end properties can pull in roughly triple that amount.
Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management, meanwhile, agreed in February to pay a 35% premium for Rouse Properties Inc., which owns 36 properties, including a number of lower-productivity malls, in a deal set to close this year. And last month, Mr. Falwell’s Liberty University paid about $33 million for a 75% stake in River Ridge Mall, next to its Lynchburg, Va., campus.
“It will never be what I call an ‘A’ mall,” said Mr. Falwell. But it is the only regional mall within more than 50 miles, and the university expects to upgrade the property and sell it in a few years, he said. “We’ll be able to make a substantial profit,” said Mr. Falwell. The university and the community will benefit from having a more appealing property as a neighbor, he said.
In all, Liberty has about $1.3 billion in investments, including other real estate, according to Mr. Falwell. Less than 30% is in equities, he said.
Mall-industry giants are moving in the opposite direction. Simon Property Group, General Growth Properties and Taubman Centers Inc. have been shedding less-productive malls in recent years. The largest mall landlords now own mostly higher-end properties such as New York’s Roosevelt Field, which boasts a Neiman Marcus and an Apple Store.
These so-called A malls are often seen as less vulnerable to online shopping. They tend to be in densely populated, affluent areas and filled with stores and restaurants that consumers flock to. The owners often spend large sums to renovate and maintain the properties, and the payoff is a steady stream of income.
Stock-market investors favor the strategy. Shares of Simon and General Growth are up 7.5% and 7.8% this year, respectively, through Monday’s close, according to FactSet.
By contrast, owners of “B” malls are faring less well. WP Glimcher Inc. is down 4.3% and CBL & Associates Properties Inc., which sold the stake in the Lynchburg mall, is down 2.8%.
Owning weaker malls is seen as riskier. Newer properties can lure away retailers and shoppers, and foot traffic can steadily decline. Unlike office buildings that can attract tenants by lowering rents, a dying mall might not find takers at any price, analysts say.
“It just goes dark,” said Tad Philipp, director of commercial real estate research at Moody’s Investors Service. Experts believe many less-productive malls will close in years ahead.
The high stakes can make lenders wary, Mr. Philipp said. Last year, the 10 biggest losses on loans backed by malls and packaged into commercial mortgage-backed securities totaled $530 million, according to Trepp LLC, which tracks such loans. Some losses exceeded the outstanding loan balance.
Yet analysts say many less-productive malls have a future.
“It’s important to distinguish among ‘B’ malls,” said Brian Kingston, chief executive of Brookfield Property Partners, an affiliate of Brookfield Asset Management that already owns about a third of Rouse’s outstanding shares.
The only enclosed mall in a smaller market can have a dominant position, for example. Farallon, which managed $19.5 billion as of the beginning of the year, said that was part of the appeal of the three malls it bought last month, which are in Gadsden, Ala., Dothan, Ala., and Christiansburg, Va.
In such situations, sales per square foot might not be the key indicator, said Rich Moore, a senior analyst at RBC Capital Markets. “There are $200-per-square-foot malls that you can make work, that you can make into moneymaking machines,” he said.
In more-populous areas, the issues can be different. Todd Minnis, who heads Dallas-based Capref Manager LLC, said there is an opportunity in older properties in urban areas that have excess parking space that could accommodate apartments, hotels or office space.
The firm manages a fund that owns several malls in dense urban areas, including one it purchased this month in Burbank, Calif.
That kind of upgrade may be necessary to keep a B mall thriving, said Brookfield’s Mr. Kingston. “This is sort of roll-up-your-sleeves real-estate investing.”
-Write to Liam Pleven at email@example.com
Santa Monica, awaiting the Expo Line's launch, re-imagines itself as a model of mobility
Each day, about 80,000 people travel to Santa Monica for work. At the same time, about 45,000 Santa Monica residents head to jobs outside the city.
Most drive solo, often on jammed freeways.
Even the biggest public-transportation boosters acknowledge that next month's arrival of the Expo Line — the first passenger rail service to a Westside beach in more than half a century — isn't going to change habits overnight.
Still, the rail extension is an opportunity that Santa Monica officials intend to take full advantage of.
Now is the chance, they say, for the city of about 92,000 to serve as a model of mobility.
A lot is riding on this effort. Los Angeles County is in the midst of a major expansion of rail service — four new routes are under construction this year — and transit officials are struggling to boost ridership.
This latest stretch of track, which rolls through key tech and entertainment job centers all the way to the ocean, offers a fresh chance to lure new riders.
Santa Monica officials have been working hard to give the train a central role in the city. They hope to use it to broaden the way people think about how they travel, to get them to contemplate alternatives to their bumper-to-bumper car journeys.
Taking the train, of course, carries its own set of challenges — notably getting to a station, and from a station to a destination. But the city plans to highlight the relatively easy ways in which these hurdles can be overcome.
For so long, people in the L.A. area had little choice but to get in their cars and drive from Point A to Point B, Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole said. Now they have options.
They can take the bus to the train. They can take a ride share from the train. They can travel all the way or part of the way to their destinations by bike share.
Santa Monica hopes to make the array of possibilities evident on May 20, when the first Expo Line passengers disembark at the 26th St./Bergamot, 17th St./Santa Monica College and downtown Santa Monica stations.
Commuters will be able to see right away where to pick up one of the new Breeze bike share rides or wait for an Uber or Lyft or a Santa Monica Big Blue Bus or Metro bus. There will be signs pointing out the places one might want to head on foot.
Santa Monica Pier is just a few blocks west of the downtown station at 4th Street and Colorado Avenue. The city is building a promenade between the two. Called the Colorado Esplanade, it will transform a previously vehicle-filled stretch of Colorado Boulevard into an inviting passageway favoring the pedestrian and cyclist.
One lane of traffic — heading west — will remain open. But the rest of the space will give way to a wide sidewalk and dedicated bike lanes. At night, the esplanade will be illuminated by festive strings of lights hanging between yellow poles.
It's not enough, Cole said, to rely on the old "if you build it, they will come" cliche. To get people to use the Expo Line and other forms of transportation, the experience will have to be appealing and convenient.
And ensure that travelers feel safe.
To that end, the city is adding 11 so-called pedestrian scrambles — which stop all car traffic through an intersection while those on foot cross in every direction, including diagonally.
People usually are willing to walk about 10 minutes, Cole said. With the scrambles, from the downtown Expo station "you can pretty much get to most of downtown" in that amount of time, he said. "And if it's shaded and pleasant, then we think people will do it."
Santa Monica has been making tweaks for months now, all over the city — adding street lights and bike racks, building out curbs to shorten busy crossings and making them less intimidating to pedestrians. Main Street is being revamped, with wide sidewalks and bike paths, so that it flows directly into 2nd Street — smoothing the connection between the Civic Center area and downtown.
It's a lot like working on a big jigsaw puzzle, trying to fix some of the issues that prevent people from looking beyond their cars to get from place to place.
The Big Blue Bus system, for instance, has overhauled its routes — tweaking some old ones and adding six more to make sure there are easy connections to and from each of Santa Monica's three Expo Line stops (as well as four others in its 56-square-mile service area.)
"It's really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Westside and the city of Santa Monica to enhance mobility for residents and to really get people out of their cars to try public transit," said Ed King, the bus system's director of transit services. He, by the way, drives and carpools to his Santa Monica office from Long Beach.
In the past four years, Santa Monica has grown its network of dedicated bike lanes, climbing lanes and lanes marked with "sharrows" from 35 miles to 105, said Francie Stefan, the city's mobility manager. And between its November launch and the middle of April, the Breeze Bikeshare program — which has 80 stations throughout Santa Monica — logged 15,000 members and 74,000 trips.
Highlighting all of these changes is a way, Cole said, of leveraging the Expo Line extension to maximize its benefits to the city.
Opening day plans call for a big party along the new rail route. Train and bus rides will be free. The Big Blue Bus system also will offer a 2-for-1 special: Buy a May bus pass and get June for free. On Sunday June 5, Santa Monica will hold Coast, its version of CicLAvia — shutting off about two miles of street around the downtown Expo station to car traffic so that people can enjoy them on bikes and on foot.
And because Cole suspects that a good portion of people's resistance to public transit is psychological — and that some of that is embarrassment about not understanding how to use it — Santa Monica is planning back-to-basics public education on things like how to use a TAP card and how much the bus costs.
In the run-up to the Expo Line extension, much of the focus has been on taking the train to the beach.
On summer weekends, the city can draw more than 200,000 visitors, Cole said. In the next few months, some folks surely will roll up their towels and give that 46-minute train trip from downtown L.A. a try.
But chances are the percentage of train-taking beachgoers will be low. That's OK, Cole said. Change will happen. It has to.
How many more cars, after all, can jam their way onto the 10 Freeway — whose stretch from downtown L.A. to Santa Monica recently was named one of the 10 most-congested roadways in the world? Cole knows just how bad it is. He drives to work from Los Feliz — among the 80% of municipal employees who live outside Santa Monica.
"Cities don't change overnight, and people don't change overnight," he said.
"We're not asking people to sell their cars. We just want them to try some other options. And that will take time. It's like learning a new language."
San Diego’s biotech trade group Biocom is opening an office in Los Angeles.
The trade group’s goal is to help grow the L.A. life science community, which is home to nearly 300 biopharmaceutical and medical device firms, according to Biocom.
"Los Angeles as a region has enormous potential to unify and thrive as a successful life science cluster," said Joe Panetta, president and chief executive of Biocom, in a statement. "As we listen to the needs of the industry, we see activities and programs we can introduce, and best practices we can offer, to promote the success of L.A. as a life science powerhouse.”
Panetta said Biocom will advocate for the industry, and be a voice for venture capital funding, partnerships, tech transfer, and talent retention in Los Angeles.
L.A. residents are less optimistic about the Los Angeles economy this year than last year as the county’s job growth rate is expected to slow for the remainder of this year and next, according to a survey and forecast to be released this morning.
In a survey of more than 2,400 residents conducted this winter by Loyola Marymount University’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles, 73 percent said they expected the regional economy to improve this year, down from 81 percent a year ago. And 65 percent said the region was moving in the right direction this year, down from 69 percent a year ago.
“Residents of Los Angeles are not as upbeat in their predictions as last year,” said Fernando Guerra, director of LMU’s center. “But a majority believe that the economy will do better next year, that their neighborhoods are good places to live and that the region is moving in the right direction.”
The biggest concern of local residents: the cost of housing. Only 16 percent of survey respondents said homes in the region are affordable, down from 20 percent a year ago. What’s more, 73 percent of residents surveyed said they expect further housing price increases over the next year.
The survey results on the economic outlook correspond to a slight slowdown in economic growth this year compared to last year, according to a forecast to be released simultaneously on Wednesday morning from Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles economic consulting firm.
Beacon forecasts the job growth rate to slow to 1.7 percent this year on a net job gain of 74,000, down from 2.4 percent last year. And the unemployment rate, currently at 5.4 percent, is expected to tick up to 6 percent.
Bridge Keeps Finding Industrial Development Sites
It seems impossible, but Bridge Development has managed to snag another industrial development site in infill Los Angeles. The developer has purchased a nearly 20-acre land site located at 825 South Ajax Avenue in the City of Industry, and is building a 429,840-square-foot spec industrial building. It is scheduled for completion in October of this year.
“Industrial vacancy in the San Gabriel Valley is below 1%, and planned development of buildings over 200,000 square feet in Los Angeles County is very limited,” Brian Wilson, a principal at Bridge Development, tells GlobeSt.com. “At over 400,000 square feet Bridge Point Industry is uniquely positioned among very few competitors across the dynamic tenant base of Los Angeles. The buildings state-of-the-art characteristics will appeal to innumerable tenants seeking increased operational efficiencies the new facility affords.”
Finding available land for development is tough in Los Angeles, but this is the second project that the development company has announced in two months. That is likely because they will take on challenging sites. “Like most development sites in Los Angeles County, this site had its own unique set of challenges when it came to developing a new facility,” explains Wilson. However, this acquisition was uniquely suited for Bridge Development Partners as we have a long history of redeveloping challenging brownfield sites.”
Bridge Development secured a $31 million loan to fund the construction of the site. There is currently a property on the site that will be demolished before construction. “Following that, our team will commence construction of the new state-of-the-art warehouse which will be complete in the 4th quarter of this year,” adds Wilson. “Our business plan offers the flexibility to actively seek tenants for lease or sale.” Once complete, the class-A property will have a 36-foot-clear ceiling height, an estimated 5% office finish and 480 parking spaces.
The developer is supplying a much-needed industrial product to the market, which has some of the lowest vacancy rates in history. As a result, Bridge has already received interest from prospective tenants or buyers. “Despite being in the early phase of the development, we have received significant interest from multiple tenants on the site,” says Wilson. “The intended uses are varied and point to both small and large companies looking to expand in the region.”
Stuart Milligan of Cushman Wakefield, Tony Phu of Colliers International and Anthony Brent and Ryan Martin of HFF, brokered the sale of the site, while Jason Morgan at Iffaldano, Shaw & Young served as legal representation for Bridge.
The 147,346-square-foot Foreman & Clark building in downtown Los Angeles sold to a Bonnis Properties, a private investor for $52 million or $356 per square foot.
The 13-story building at 404 W. 7th St. originally built in 1929 as a department store was vacant at the time of purchase.
Avison Young Principal Derrick Moore, based in the company’s Downtown Los Angeles office, represented the buyer. The seller, LA-based Dr. Kyung Ku Cho who acquired the property in 2012, was represented by Phillip Sample and Chris Caras of CBRE.
The asset sits on nearly 0.28 acres at a signalized intersection near Hill Street.. The buyer is planning to rehabilitate and restore the historic core property. Details of the redevelopment are in early planning stages.
“This is a significant property acquisition for the Downtown L.A. market, and the renovation and impact of the retail and residential units will further bolster the rapid growth and improvement of the Jewelry District, which is poised to transform into a thriving retail and residential hub,” Moore said.
Submarket Snapshot: South Park's office market in Q1 2016
In the first quarter of 2016, DTLA’s South Park office submarket saw 15.5 percent vacancy, according to a report by Transwestern.
Its vacancy rate was lower than the 17 percent average for the Downtown market and significantly lower than Bunker Hill‘s 20.9 percent.
The Downtown market, as calculated in the report, includes four office submarkets: Bunker Hill, Financial Core, South Park and Greater Downtown. South Park is the second-biggest in terms of inventory, with 3.8 million square feet of office space. The largest is the Financial Core, which has 18.1 million square feet.
First quarter office rent in South Park averaged $2.81, higher than the Downtown average of $3.13.
The area saw negative absorption of 27,671 square feet and had 176,588 square feet of space under construction at the close of the quarter.
Grid110 - How a Group of Diverse Entrepreneurs are Shaping the Tech Ecosystem in Downtown LA
Los Angeles has been traditionally known as the center of the entertainment and fashion industries and one of the most multi-culturally diverse cities in the U.S. More recently, Los Angeles has also become home to entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of the lower real estate prices and untapped resources it offers. Until recently, many start-ups especially in the tech sector have gravitated to the West Side, locating their headquarters in Santa Monica, Venice or Playa Vista, better known as Silicon Beach. However, a similar boom is currently taking place on the East side—specifically in Downtown LA, that can only be described as a revival back to the thriving economic hub it once was back in the 50’s and 60’s. This can be attributed to the efforts the city has put into building attractive high-rise housing units, improving transportation, as seen with the renovation of Union Station, as well as new restaurants and co-working spaces opening up every day. The result: Downtown LA is now attracting a younger Millennial generation wanting to skip the long commute down to the beach and opting for a bustling city experience where they can live and work.
It was this shifting landscape that excited Stephen Kane. A local East sider himself, Stephen held a vision of Downtown LA becoming a modern-day tech hub. In April 2104, he was elected to downtown neighborhood council and created an unofficial task force comprised of fellow DTLA based entrepreneurs and community organizers to look at the best way to achieve this. They began to meet up regularly which quickly turned into a sort of support group. “At one point, there were 12 or so of us meeting on a regular basis to have conversations about how to grow our companies given the lack of affordable office space, distance to movers and shakers in Silicon Beach, and lack of access to investment capital. Each person took it upon themselves to research solutions and come back monthly to share with the group. Over time, a few people dropped out for one reason or another and it became the seven of us who continued to come together for these discussions,” says Megan Sette, Founding Board Member of Grid110.
And it was this way that Grid 110 was born. Their vision: support entrepreneurs to positively impact the economy in Downtown LA. The idea was to help start-ups get over the hump many entrepreneurs face when trying to expand and grow—the same challenges they as a group were facing. They decided the best way to meet this challenge was to connect start-ups to affordable office space and offer access to mentors and funding to help them grow into sustainable companies, which in turn would support the start-up ecosystem downtown.
To achieve this, they first reached out to the Mayor’s Office, a big force behind revitalizing Downtown LA, who facilitated discussions with developers and potential partners. One of those conversations was with Brookfield, a major property owner and eventual building partner interested in attracting tech companies into their office buildings. Another was Nixon Peabody, an international law-firm who became a financial sponsor and offered pro-bono legal services to create Grid 110’s non-profit status and who now provides legal support to the start-ups that come through the doors of Grid110, an essential resource in the early life cycle of a company. “Downtown LA is going through a renaissance, and as our own business evolves, we also want to be part of the innovation we are seeing all around us. We are committed to support the success of the new businesses popping up downtown where our office is located, particularly those focused on fashion and technology, because we have industry expertise in those areas. That’s why we were excited about Grid110’s vision and decided to become a partner,” says Seth Levy, Managing Partner of Nixon Peabody’s Los Angeles office.
When I asked James Malone, Vice President of Leasing at Brookfield, why a prominent property owner and developer would be interested in supporting an accelerator like Grid110, he also said it was a strategic no-brainer for them. “With seven Class-A buildings in the Downtown core, partnering with Grid110 was a natural fit with our vision to diversify our portfolio of tenants. Traditionally our tenants have been banks, insurance companies, law firms, and consulting firms, but as we are seeing growth from technology tenants in this market along with the rising Millennial population living and working downtown, we wanted to figure out how we could make our buildings more attractive for their needs.” He continues about the benefits of being in a high rise versus a renovated warehouse building that many start-ups gravitate to. “Start-ups shouldn’t be scared of high rises. From an infrastructure standpoint, our buildings are robust, offering superior bandwidth, on-site security, and other amenities that growing companies need. Since we house a number of banks, investors, and other types of service businesses in our buildings, this gives start-ups strategic access to companies that they need. Plus, our rental rates are very competitive to Silicon Beach and there’s nothing wrong with having a view!”
Grid110 describes itself as a community organization focused on economic development that runs similar to an accelerator. The name symbolizes various technology and innovation hubs like Culver City, Pasadena, and Downtown LA, cities that are home to industries like aerospace, entertainment, healthy care and more recently technology, and are all connected by the first freeway built in Los Angeles on the East Side, Highway 110. Currently focused on fashion tech, a natural joining of an established industry in Los Angeles and the current tech boom, Grid 110’s first cohort included companies like Vrai & Oro, a jewelry line, Casetify, a tech accessories brand, and ShapeShifter, a SaS platform for fashion manufactures, all who were selected through an application process. Other companies in their initial cohort were SimpleTux and TeamTassy. They received free office space in the Gaslight building in Downtown LA for six months, as well as customized mentorship and programming on topics like hiring procedures, perfecting a pitch deck, and even how to broker a deal for office space. Grid110 facilitated Monday coffee meetings with the entire cohort and board of directors to dissect where the company needed help and curated training sessions with experts based on their needs, as well as offered lunch n’ learns with major players in tech and beyond. “One of the biggest value-adds for us at Casetify were the leads and intimate connections to potential business partners, mentors and retailers that would’ve taken us months to get. Grid110’s powerful network helped accelerate our business growth,” says Jennie Yoon, Director of Business Development at Casetify.
The Grid110 advisory board also offered advice to the budding entrepreneurs in residence. Notables such as Jason White, VP of Marketing for Beats by Dre talked to them about marketing best practices. Another advisor, Kim, founder of Hudson Jeans, came in and addressed the struggles associated with investing partners. Two of their other advisory board members sit as VC’s, including Karen Northman of Upfront Ventures and Mike Macadaan of Science, Inc. Other local VC’s also found their way into the Grid110 office, including Greycroft, who listened to pitches from each of the companies participating in the accelerator. After the six-month period, all the companies in the first cohort participated in a demo day, a prerequisite to graduation and also presented a report card on Grid110’s impact on their business growth and on the community.
What struck me as unique as I spoke to the founders about the formation of Grid110 was the diversity of backgrounds each of the founding board members brought to the table and how they were able to pool their resources and expertise to bring their project to life. The board consists of three women co-founders who are all community builders: Audrey Bellis, an influencer who was key in bridging the relationship with Brookfield and founder of StartupDTLA; Megan Sette, who runs a marketing and consulting agency M Collaborative, pivotal in helping discover potential partners and collaborators; and Miki Reynolds who works as the Downtown Community Manager for General Assembly, instrumental in bringing industry leaders and advisors for mentorship. Other co-founders include Stephen Kane, a small business lawyer who runs a legal start-up called Arbiclaims; Justin Wolske with a background in the film industry and runs an education-tech start-up called Caseworx; and Prashant Samant and Jared Goodner, graduates of popular start-up accelerator, Y Combinator, who work on a health tech start-up called Akido Labs, as well as run the D-Health Lab at USC.
When I asked Stephen how they leverage this diversity, his answer was simple. “We just play to our strengths and collaborate. This board is the best group of people I’ve ever worked with, people who just get things done. Everyone is passionate about our mission, and no matter what the challenge, we are all able to step up to the plate. Everyone is kicking butt in their own personal careers, partly because we are helping each other out and also because of the community we are building. Our board represents a microcosm of what we are creating.” The team functions like any non-profit board, but it essentially runs like a start-up. Everyone wears multiple hats and has a common interest in building an ecosystem in Downtown LA. “We all relate to what a struggle it can be to start a company specifically in LA, that’s the common tie that binds. It’s what makes this team great—we can all relate first-hand to the problem we’re trying to solve. Not all boards have that in common,” says Megan. “We are also community focused and want to learn from places like San Francisco where they’re struggling to find the right balance between start-ups and the community at large. We want to challenge the status quo and really get businesses to think about how they can give back on problems like diversity and homelessness through leveraging their resources and supporting new companies who also want to do good and improve the overall ecosystem they are operating within,” remarks Stephen passionately and emphatically.
Next up for Grid110, they are looking to hire an Executive Director and other full time staff to help expand their efforts. According to Stephen, “We are looking 10 years down the line and we want to expand to other parts of LA as well as other verticals such as legal, finance, health care, manufacturing, and ultimately would like to enter other markets like Detroit who could benefit from start-up accelerators and community building to support local start-up scenes and economies in a bigger way.”
The next start-up class at Grid 110 begins July 1st. They are accepting applications starting May 1st, actively seeking innovative fashion tech entrepreneurs who are committed to growing their businesses in Downtown LA.
-Follow Monique Svazlian Tallon, CPCC on Twitter: www.twitter.com/moniquetallo
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