By ELIZABETH HAYES

Staff Reporter

Tenants' appetite for Westside "creative space" has been plenty healthy in recent months, and that has not escaped the notice of Westside landlords. Despite the recent downturn in entertainment employment, several Westside landlords are renovating their properties to appeal to creative types.

Murray Kerdman, who owns an office building on Slauson Avenue near the Marina (90) Freeway in Culver City, is planning to install features that would appeal to entertainment and high-tech firms high ceilings, exposed beams, skylights, polished concrete floors and operable windows.

The two-story, 41,000-square-foot building has housed traditional office tenants for the past 10 years, but the lease of the current tenant, NEC Business Systems, is up in another nine months, he said.

Kerdman's building is just one of several in the Santa Monica, Culver City and Marina del Rey areas that are being transformed to suit tenants who work long hours and want a comfortable atmosphere.

Construction started last week on the Culver Media Center, a conversion of an old industrial building at 10567 Jefferson Blvd. that is being outfitted with fiber optics, skylights and other amenities, said Richard Abbitt, president of Lee & Associates, broker for the project.

The Penn Central Studios building on Stewart Street in Santa Monica also is in the midst of being converted to creative space. Abbitt said he has leased 25,000 square feet to two tenants, leaving 50,000 square feet available in the building, which was previously occupied by the Gemological Institute of America.

Yet another creative conversion underway is at the 100,000-square-foot Marina del Rey industrial building formerly occupied by Teledyne. That building, now called Media Works, is also nearing completion.

Such conversions generally cost about $25 a square foot, but often enable landlords to double the rents, Abbitt said.

Jerry Porter, president of Metrospace/Cresa Corp., believes demand for such space will continue. "Entertainment, new-media and technology companies are all chasing that kind of space," he said.

Inglewood is seeing some spillover. The Airport Business Center, which traditionally caters to air-freight companies, has recently reached full occupancy by leasing space to entertainment-related firms, according to Klabin Co., which handles leasing there.

Some caution is warranted, said Craig Meyer, senior vice president and managing principal of the Seeley Co.'s West L.A. office.

"(Creatively renovated space) is a double-edged sword. It's highly personalized, specific to a company and has little utility for the next user," he said. The key is to make sure the space is equipped with high-tech capabilities, with expanded data transmission and flexible utilities, he said.

Apartment complex reopens

One of the largest apartment complexes in the San Fernando Valley, which was severely damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, is reopening. The 372-unit complex, formerly an Oakwood extended-stay facility, has just undergone a $25 million renovation and has been renamed The Premiere.

Fifty units were pre-leased prior to the Aug. 1 opening, said Paul Jennings, co-chairman and chief executive of PCS Development, which owns the complex.

Business amenities include in-room Internet service, a business center with copiers, fax machines, computers and printers, meeting and lecture rooms, dry cleaning service and a market. Monthly rents range from $799 for a studio to $1,500 for a two-bedroom.

Located at 4500 Woodman Ave. in Sherman Oaks, PCS is looking to attract entertainment-industry workers from Hollywood, Universal City and Burbank, Jennings said.

PCS has bought and developed about 1,500 earthquake-damaged multifamily residential units in the San Fernando Valley. It bought the Oakwood last October for $9 million and began the renovation in January, four years after the quake. Jennings said other PCS-owned units in the Sherman Oaks area are more than 97 percent occupied.

"It's become very fashionable again to live in the area," he said.

Apartment sale

In other Valley apartment news, Ten West Associates sold The Arbors at Warner Center to San Francisco-based BRE Properties, a national multifamily real estate investment trust.

The Arbors is a 250-unit complex with 12 buildings of two-story and three-story garden-style apartments. It is located within the master-planned Warner Center in Woodland Hills. The purchase price was $23.5 million, or about $95,000 per unit. The property is 99 percent leased.

Ray Eldridge and Joe Leon of CB Richard Ellis represented both the buyer and seller.

Beverly Hills activity

Several projects are moving forward in Beverly Hills.

Lexington Commercial Holdings has submitted preliminary plans for a three-story, 265,000-square-foot project with retail shops, restaurants, offices and a cinema at 222 N. Beverly Drive in the Golden Triangle, according to the city's planning department.

Wilshire-Linden Properties, owned by Mahboubi Partners, has scaled down plans for a hotel at the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Linden Drive. Its 274-room proposal has been reduced to 204 rooms in buildings ranging from four to eight stories, said project manager Rudy Cole.

"Clearly, this whole area is under-hoteled," Cole said.

Staff reporter Elizabeth Hayes can be reached at (213) 549-5225 ext. 229.

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