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.

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