Santa Monica has become so popular with creative-oriented office tenants that rents there have soared beyond the reach of many looking to migrate west.

So what's a creative type to do? Move to Culver City.

The largely blue-collar, somewhat gritty Westside city may not seem like a magnet for cutting-edge Hollywood types (even though Sony Pictures Entertainment is there).

But Culver City has been attracting an increasing number of technology, entertainment and other creative tenants that find Santa Monica rents too steep or that can't find sufficient space there at any price. Average gross monthly office rents are about $2 per square foot in Culver City, at least 20 percent cheaper than comparable space in Santa Monica.

"This reminds me of Santa Monica 10 years ago. Creative tenants are beginning to view this as a good alternative and cost savings," said Ian Strano, vice president at brokerage Beitler Commercial Realty Services.

Among the speculative "creative space" conversions currently underway: The second phase of the Eric Owen Moss-designed Conjunctive Points at Hayden Avenue and National Boulevard; the 69,000-square-foot Culver Media Center at Jefferson Boulevard and Overland Avenue; and three more buildings just outside Culver City in Los Angeles that together encompass 130,000 square feet.

The conversions involve transforming circa-1940s warehouses or factories into offices featuring high "bow truss" ceilings with exposed beams, skylights, sawtooth-style roofs with clerestory windows, polished concrete floors, sandblasted wood and fiber-optic wiring.

They are revitalizing former industrial yards that had fallen by the wayside part of a broader redevelopment effort undertaken by the city in recent years that has included preservation of several historic structures, redesign of downtown traffic patterns and construction of a new City Hall.

One of the industrial building conversions, completed last spring on Washington Boulevard, was designed by architect Steven Ehrlich. The office-studio project is fully leased to entertainment and high-tech tenants, including Centropolis Effects, Sony Pictures and comedian Tracy Ullman. And unlike many of the conversions, it even includes a restaurant Industry Bar & Grill.

"Most of the tenants are Santa Monica refugees," said Greg Harless, a partner with Skye Partners, the project's co-owner. "Santa Monica's more an established location now, and for people who perceive themselves to be on the cutting edge, they want to break new ground."

Being "more established" means most old warehouse space in Santa Monica has already been converted and leased out to creative office users.


For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.