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Equity Office Daily Brief: May 24, 2016

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Daily Brief

May 24, 2016

  EquilityOffice

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What Immediate Forecasts Mean for Office Building Owners and Investors

Commercial Property Executive

 

Early concerns about the industry’s new-year optimism have turned out to be well founded. During the first quarter of 2016, several outlets including Morgan Stanley and Forbes.com expressed concern about the commercial real estate industry’s new-year optimism. Although such opinions appeared to...

 



BLOG & ONLINE NEWS

 

Is Arts District Creative Office a Good Investment?

GlobeSt.com

 

The Downtown renaissance has attracted many, many investors and, in turn, has catapulted pricing to record levels across product types—but not every downtown submarket has hit its stride. In the Arts District, creative office product rivals pricing on the Westside, but...

 


mOcean Renews 28k sf Space in West LA

RENTV.com

 

In recent leasing activity from Los Angeles’ westside, mOcean has renewed its 28.3k sf office space at 2440 S. Sepulveda Blvd, between Pico and Exposition Blvds, on the east side of the 405 Fwy. The free-standing building contains 200k sf of space...

 


Weiss-Rohlig Logistics Takes 48k sf Torrance Space

RENTV.com

 

Weiss-Rohlig Logistics, an international logistics specialist, has agreed to a five-year, $2.3 mil lease of a 48k sf ($0.80/sf/mo) industrial building at Storm Business Park in Torrance, bringing the 40-acre development to full occupancy. The property is located at 1355 W....

 


Talking About Martin Expo Town Center

Urbanize LA

 

Last Friday, following nearly five years of work, the full Expo Line route to Santa Monica opened to throngs of eager passengers.  As if on cue, a mixed-use development inspired by the $2.5-billion light rail line is poised to go before...

 


Intercontinental Acquires Creative Office Campus in 'Silicon Beach' Market

CoStar.com

 

Boston-based Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. acquired Apollo at Rosecrans, a recently renovated four-building creative office campus totaling 546,833 square feet iin El Segundo, CA. The sale price was not disclosed although local reports pegged the transaction at roughly $328 million. Although unconfirmed,...

 


Law firm relocated by Da Vinci apartment fire sues Geoff Palmer

The Real Deal

 

Geoff Palmer may be gearing up for yet another major residential project, but the L.A. developer is also facing yet another legal battle. A law firm located next door to the Da Vinci Apartments construction site, the Palmer development that burned down in...

 


Cushman tapped to lease retail at iconic Herald Examiner building

The Real Deal

 

The vacant Herald Examiner building in Los Angeles’ Arts District is finally poised for reinvention. New York developer Georgetown Co. and partner the Hearst Corporation have tapped a Cushman & Wakefield team to market the building’s repositioned retail space, which has lain...

 

FULL TEXT


What Immediate Forecasts Mean for Office Building Owners and Investors

Commercial Property Executive

 

Early concerns about the industry’s new-year optimism have turned out to be well founded.

During the first quarter of 2016, several outlets including Morgan Stanley and Forbes.com expressed concern about the commercial real estate industry’s new-year optimism. Although such opinions appeared to be contrary to those of many U.S. real estate experts, in hindsight they have turned out to be well founded.

Given the slowing numbers in CRE market performance over the past several months, prudent CRE owners and investors in office and mixed-use properties may want to consider the following when assessing the second half of 2016:

The last quarterly issue of the National Association of Realtors’ Commercial Real Estate Outlook stated that S. businesses in the first quarter generally “cut back investments in … commercial real estate.”

Such caution appears consistent with the overall upward trend in CRE valuations—currently higher than pre-2008 levels, according to the May 5, 2016, Green Street U.S. Commercial Property Price Index.

An Urban Land Institute leader and director of North American strategy at LaSalle Investment Management, William Maher, recently said: “(C)ompared to six months ago, real estate researchers are predicting slower economic growth, slipping real estate fundamentals and lower returns. … (There’s) no imminent downturn on the horizon, although global economies … remain fragile and volatile.”

According to the April 2016 ULI Real Estate Consensus Forecast (ULI Report), commercial price appreciation through 2018 is among the top 10 CRE indicators “forecasted to be worse than their 20-year averages,” and the projected decline in commercial property price growth is expected to slow down CRE activity nationwide over the same time period.

However, per the ULI Report,S. employment rates are increasing, translating into a projected demand for office space and an overall modest decline in 2016’s national office vacancy rates to 12.6 percent.

In light of the above, office building owners looking to bolster occupancy rates until commercial prices rise again may consider at least two strategies:

Think of different ways to use existing office spaces to increase the economic return on the same amount of square footage.

According to Walter Page, Director of Research – Office for CoStar Portfolio Strategy, in the April 21, 2016, installment of The Commercial Real Estate Show, a nationally syndicated podcast, “Try(ing) to anticipate the needs of the future … (is) the key to the whole thing.”  Among other strategies, landlords can think of how to attract and retain commercial tenants with given space, such as updating amenities; increase flexibility in both leasing and space design more appealing to today’s design- and brand-oriented enterprises; and identify shared spaces that could increase operational efficiencies and cross-business opportunities within commercial properties.

Look to secondary markets and investment properties to secure future opportunities.

Citing dipping demand in traditional technology and urban markets, Page encourages investors to consider the opportunities in occupancy-challenged buildings—those less than 85 percent occupied—in certain neighborhoods of markets like Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; and Boston. Page suggests tenants and investors alike find these secondary markets attractive for maintaining good demand and they are also not “priced as richly as the (central business districts in the same markets).”

Regardless of whether the CRE market goes up or down, there will always be opportunities for those market participants willing to take calculated risks, which means that now is the time for commercial owners and investors to work with their attorneys to evaluate and implement creative strategies.

-Hana R. Hong is an associate in the Real Estate & Land Use Practice Group at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, located in the Los Angeles office. 

Is Arts District Creative Office a Good Investment?

GlobeSt.com

 

The Downtown renaissance has attracted many, many investors and, in turn, has catapulted pricing to record levels across product types—but not every downtown submarket has hit its stride. In the Arts District, creative office product rivals pricing on the Westside, but the demand for the same product type is lacking. It is a potentially dangerous combination. Should investors take on the risk? We asked creative office expert Aleks Trifunovic, president of Lee & Associates West L.A. office, if he has seen creative office investors heading to the Arts District for opportunities. He says that because of the low tenant demand and the abundance of space, he isn’t recommending it.

“You can buy something in the Arts District for $550 per square foot with no tenant demand, or you can buy something in West L.A. for $550 per square foot with tenant demand,” Trifunovic tells GlobeSt.com. “I love the Arts District and there are great things going on there, but I am telling investors to be careful.” Pricing in the market is $500 to $700 per square foot for a 5,000-square-foot to 10,000-square-foot building and the rental rates hover above $3 per square foot, compared with emerging markets like Culver City, with $3.50 per-square-foot rental rates.

High rental rates are the real issue here. The market competes with some of the equally emerging and very hip West L.A. markets, like Culver City, which have the benefit of being proximate to major tech tenants in Santa Monica and Playa Vista. “If the market was a low-price alternative, you would have seen more tenant demand, but you are actually not getting a discount to go there,” says Trifunovic. “There is a premium. It is all based on projected rents.” Lee & Associates CEO Jeff Rinkov echoes the rental rate issues in the Arts District submarket. “Rental rates have really popped in advance of the tenant demand. Usually what happens is that vacancy and scarcity drive rental rates,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “Here, it is the spreadsheets driving rental rates.”

Trifunovic and Rinkov agree that it could take a decade for the market to pop, and that, much like Playa Vista, the market will need to go through a cycle of tenants first. “If a tenant wants to be there, we definitely show them their options,” says Trifunovic. “We have taken tenants back and forth, but for tenants that don’t have a fashion background, they haven’t made that leap. The trouble that you have now is Downtown. You need someone to come in and plant its flag. Everything now is speculation.”

-Kelsi Maree Borland

mOcean Renews 28k sf Space in West LA

RENTV.com

 

In recent leasing activity from Los Angeles’ westside, mOcean has renewed its 28.3k sf office space at 2440 S. Sepulveda Blvd, between Pico and Exposition Blvds, on the east side of the 405 Fwy.

The free-standing building contains 200k sf of space over two floors. It was converted from a manufacturing facility to creative office space in the 1990s and was one of the first such conversions. It is located in close proximity to the 405 and 10 freeways.

mOcean crafts motion picture trailers and broadcast network campaigns. The firm’s staff includes over 140 editors, producers, writers, animators, graphic designers and support personnel in its West LA and Burbank offices.

John Bertram and Josh Gorin with Savills Studley represented mOcean in the transaction. Harvey Capital Corporation, the property owner, represented itself in the deal. Terms of the lease were not disclosed.

-Staff

Weiss-Rohlig Logistics Takes 48k sf Torrance Space

RENTV.com

 

Weiss-Rohlig Logistics, an international logistics specialist, has agreed to a five-year, $2.3 mil lease of a 48k sf ($0.80/sf/mo) industrial building at Storm Business Park in Torrance, bringing the 40-acre development to full occupancy. The property is located at 1355 W. Storm Pkwy, east of Western Ave and north of Sepulveda Blvd. The warehouse facility is a concrete tilt-up structure featuring dock-high and ground-level loading, 30-feet minimum clear height, ESFR sprinkler system, and 1.2k sf of office space. Weiss-Rohlig has already taken occupancy of the space, which represents the firm’s first Los Angeles area warehouse.

Originally developed by Storm Properties, Storm Business Park is an industrial and corporate office park comprising 500k sf of building space in 12 state-of-the-art structures. A portion of the property is owned by Storm Properties, another by L&B Realty Advisors, while one 57k sf building is owned and occupied by Murad.

Patrick Morgan and Jeff Morgan of Cushman & Wakefield repped Weiss-Rohlig in the deal. The company has been operating in the areas of air and sea freight, project logistics and individual logistics solutions since 1999.

Matt Stringfellow and Courtney Bell with The Klabin represented Storm Properties, the landlord, in the lease transaction. Stringfellow and Bell are exclusive marketing agents for the park, which is located one-half mile from the 110 Fwy and 10 minutes from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

-Staff

Talking About Martin Expo Town Center

Urbanize LA

 

Last Friday, following nearly five years of work, the full Expo Line route to Santa Monica opened to throngs of eager passengers.  As if on cue, a mixed-use development inspired by the $2.5-billion light rail line is poised to go before the Los Angeles City Planning Commission later this week.

The proposed Martin Expo Town Center would rise at the northwest corner of Olympic Boulevard and Bundy Drive, replacing the longtime Martin Cadillac dealership.  The project, which would be located slightly north of the elevated Expo/Bundy Station, is slated to include commercial office space, rental apartments and pedestrian-oriented shops and restaurants.

To learn more about what is planned, we spoke with with Dan Martin (DM), owner of the Martin Automotive Group, and Phil Simmons (PS), project manager for the development.

To start things off, what does the Martin Expo Town Center entail?

PS: The project consists of 516 rental apartments, including 192 studio units, 181 one-bedroom units, 137 two-bedroom units and 6 three-bedroom units.  There will be 99,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail space throughout the development, as well as 200,000 square feet of creative office space.

What type of tenants are you marketing the office space toward?

PS: Our target here is primarily the high-tech, Silicon Beach-type demographic for both the apartments and the office space.  The type of demand in this area influences this, with companies like Riot Games coming in next door, but we are also motivated by another concern: traffic.  Traffic is terrible in West L.A.  We are targeting both the housing and the office space for a high-tech demographic because that segment of the population has two characteristics that are critical to our goals.  First, they are more receptive to transit use, meaning that they are more likely to be willing to give up their cars and use the train and other alternate modes of transportation.  Second, when they do drive, they tend to be off-peak travelers, meaning they tend to get on the road later and come back home later.

There are ten's of thousands of workers within a short radius of this location.  By designing the project to provide what this group prefers, we can take some existing traffic off the road.

What will happen to the existing Cadillac dealership?

DM: The Cadillac dealership will retain its showroom here, while the rest of the operation relocates elsewhere.  We are looking to get approvals first before announcing anything.  I know a lot of people have a personal connection ot this site through its history as a car dealership.

PS: Everyone around here knows the Martins because of this dealership.  It's really helped us in the community outreach process, because they know it's a family-owned business that has been integrated into the community for years.  The Martins care about making this project the best that it can be.  Since they aren't a big developer, people have been more trusting, as the Martins have always been a part of the community.

Where are we now, in terms of the outreach process?

PS: Our final environmental impact report went out in January.  We've now gone through two staff hearings, when there is normally just one.  We had one Downtown, and then held a second to make sure that everyone on the Westside would have an opportunity to attend.  We have also held four additional voluntary community outreach meetings to make sure that community stakeholders could be heard.

There's been a lot of passionate, thoughtful support from the community, with less opposition than any other major project I've worked on.  By the time we got to the hearings, everyone who had a viable suggestions had already been heard or had their suggestions incorporated into the project.  It's been through many changes.

DM: The reason for that is that we spent the first two years of the project doing a lot of community outreach.  The first year was spent just talking to people, finding out what they want to see, what their concerns are, and what the area needs. 

PS: Of more than 1,600 community comments that were submitted, most were incorporated into the development.  For example, the original plan was for a project that was 50% larger, with 6.0 FAR and entirely commercial.  The community felt that was too intensive, despite the adjacent transit stop.  So one of the earliest changes was a 1/3 reduction in the size of the development.

Another big ticket item: the public plaza was originally elevated above the street.  The thinking was that it would get people off the street, away from the noise and fumes of traffic.  However, after discussions with the local council office, city planners and the community, it became clear that the preference was for activating the corner for pedestrian and bike access, so we dropped the podium deck to street level.

That must have forced you to make a lot of adjustments to the parking garage.

PS: Parking has been a big issue of discussion.  We could have asked for a reduction, but instead opted for full code, plus 183 extra spaces.  That's 1,548 total spaces, all underground.  It raises the budget, but makes the project nicer looking and gives the community what they want.

There has been a lot of discussion regarding parking, or a lack thereof, at the new Expo Line stations.  Is that something the project will attempt to address?

PS: We are decoupling the parking from the residential units, so while it won't be assigned transit parking, our extra parking will be accessible to people who want to use the train station.

What are the next steps from here?

PS: Our next hearing is at the City Planning Commission on May 26.  Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we should go to the City Council PLUM Committee afterwards, then within a week or so to the full Council.  We hope to be through the entire process by late June or early July.

After approval, it should be approximately one year to get through construction plans and plan check.  We anticipate breaking ground approximatley 12 months from now.

Anything else that you might like to mention?

PS: We've gotten a lot of support letters from unusual places.  These are people integrated into the community, who are thoughtful and aware.  The Council office has been clear from the beginning: we will support you as long as this is a state-of-the-art transit-oriented devleopment that sets the bar for the whole city.

DM: Two transit-oriented academics from USC and Cal Poly did independent evaluations, and say that the project meets the aspects of good transit-oriented development.

PS: We're thinking about a PR campaign called "Development Done Right."  I want to take this to ULI as a case study when this is all done to prove that yes, major projects can be done collaboratively.  It doesn't have to be adversarial between the developer and the community.

-Steven Sharp

Intercontinental Acquires Creative Office Campus in 'Silicon Beach' Market

CoStar.com

 

Boston-based Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. acquired Apollo at Rosecrans, a recently renovated four-building creative office campus totaling 546,833 square feet iin El Segundo, CA.

The sale price was not disclosed although local reports pegged the transaction at roughly $328 million. Although unconfirmed, at that price the sale would qualify as one of the largest office property transactions in the Los Angeles market so far this year.

The 13-acre campus totals 546,833 square feet of office space along the Rosecrans Corridor near the I-105 and the 110 Freeways.

The sellers, Invesco Real Estate and Second Street Ventures, originally bought the campus in August 2013 when the buildings were mostly vacant. They completed a high-end renovation of the property in 2015, and its appeal for office tenants was demonstrated by its total occupied space of 537,548 square feet, bringing the asset to 98% occupancy in just 18 months, according to Jessica Levin, director of acquisitions at Intercontinental.

Levin believes the property is poised for strong rent growth based on favorable market fundamentals.

"Demand for creative office space in Westside LA is on the rise,” said Levin. “Continuing rent hikes in neighboring markets such as Playa Vista is driving tenants to El Segundo, resulting in a vast migration of businesses to the Rosecrans Corridor. This bodes extremely well for future rent appreciation in this submarket.”

"Rents at Apollo are considerably below market rate values based on comparable product in the surrounding areas,” Levin said, noting that while the property commands the highest rents in the Rosecrans Corridor, Apollo currently leases office space at a 20% discount to average Silicon Beach rates.

Kevin Shannon, formerly with CBRE and now with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, represented the sellers, Invesco Real Estate and Second Street Ventures.

-Mark Heschmeyer

Law firm relocated by Da Vinci apartment fire sues Geoff Palmer

The Real Deal

 

Geoff Palmer may be gearing up for yet another major residential project, but the L.A. developer is also facing yet another legal battle.

A law firm located next door to the Da Vinci Apartments construction site, the Palmer development that burned down in a massive 2014 fire, is now suing Palmer and his two development companies — GH Palmer Associates and Palmer Temple Street Properties — for damages and financial losses.

Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, whose offices were located at 221 North Figueroa Street, claims Palmer failed to properly maintain the apartments and to establish fire safety measures when constructing the 75,000-square-foot wood-framed structure. The developer “allowed the creation of a fire hazard,” as outlined in the complaint. The suit, filed Monday in the Los Angeles Superior Court, did not specify an exact amount in damages.

“Had even a minimum amount of care or concern for the impact of a fire, regardless of cause, been employed, and the foregoing standard safety features been employed, then the fire on the would have been self-contained and not spread to generate sufficient heat that caused the damage it did to adjacent properties,” the law firm’s complaint continued.

Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith is one of the largest law firms in L.A., with over 220 attorneys in its local offices. After the fire, the firm signed a 15-year, $115 million lease for office space at 633 West Fifth Street — the tallest building west of the Mississippi as of 2015.

They are not the first entity to sue Palmer for damages from the massive fire two years ago. In February, the L.A. city attorney filed a $20 million lawsuit against Palmer for negligence, claiming that the developer did not compartmentalize construction or install fire walls and doors. The city also argued that the building did not have an appropriate water supply to fight a fire and lacked security against trespassers, including the suspected arsonist responsible for the fire.

L.A. officials say the nearby city properties suffered about $80 million in damage. Insurance has covered about $61.9 million, so now the city is requesting that Palmer reimburse the rest.

The trial against the alleged arsonist, Dawud Abdulwali, began earlier this month. According to witness testimonies, Abdulwali’s intent may have been rooted in frustration over police brutality and systemic racism in America.

Construction on the 526-unit complex picked up again last August.

— Cathaleen Chen

Cushman tapped to lease retail at iconic Herald Examiner building

The Real Deal

 

The vacant Herald Examiner building in Los Angeles’ Arts District is finally poised for reinvention.

New York developer Georgetown Co. and partner the Hearst Corporation have tapped a Cushman & Wakefield team to market the building’s repositioned retail space, which has lain vacant since the newspaper shuttered in 1989, The Real Deal has learned.?A Cushman team lead by Matt Fainchtein and Carter Magnin is pitching the ornate ground floor-space in the Mission Revival style building to prospective tenants, primarily restaurant concepts, this week at the International Council of Shopping Center’ annual Las Vegas convention. The nearly 20,000-square-foot retail space will likely be split into a handful of smaller spaces, they said.

“The soft goods and clothing retailers are still in their infancy in the Arts District but with restaurants and entertainment, we feel that the consumer is there and the buzz is there,” Magnin told The Real Deal. “There’s a lot of disposable income. You have young people making $100,000 in income and they don’t have mortgages or two kids at home – that’s money to go out and eat and drink.”

Upstairs, JLL’s Carl Muhlstein is courting tenants for 100,000 square feet of creative office space across five floors, TRD previously reported. Fainchtein said he expects that major tech tenants, including the likes of Facebook and Yahoo, will be intrigued by the unusual architecture of the space. While major tech tenants have typically gravitated towards the Playa Vistas of the region as opposed to Downtown, that trend may soon reverse, he said.

“The Googles of the world, the Facebooks and the Yahoos have toured the market,” he said. “None of them have quite landed but everyone is hearing all the buzz and they want to be educated.”

The building dates back to 1913 when William Randolph Heart commissioned the building for his sixth newspaper. Harry Houdini did a suspended straitjacket escape from the building in 1923. More recently, the building has been used as a filming location for films such as “Zoolander” and “The Usual Suspects.”

Architecture firm Gensler is spearheading the conversion.

Fainchtein and Carter Magnin declined to comment on asking rents for the space but noted that retail space along the Broadway corridor has recently range in price from $48 a square foot to upwards of $100, depending on the space.

-Katherine Clarke

Daily Brief May 24, 2016 unsubscribe

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