"You can't find this kind of space in Santa Monica. It's the institutional interpretation of creative space that's being built now," Strano said. "The immediate supply of warehouse buildings that could be renovated has been saturated."
Developer-landlord Frederick Smith is a Culver City pioneer, having converted 300,000 square feet of his old industrial buildings over the past decade in an area called Conjunctive Points. The buildings are 95 percent leased.
Phase two of Smith's Conjunctive Points conversion about 150,000 square feet is now under construction. Old industrial buildings on the site are being totally or partially razed to make room for surface parking, and possibly even a parking structure.
T-minus 30 Films, a TV commercial production and post-production company, has pre-leased one of the five phase-two buildings. The company expects to move there in February from its current offices in Venice and Santa Monica. In addition to the skylights and sandblasted ceilings, phase two has been designed by Moss to feature a green umbrella made of steel and glass that will go on the outside front corner.
"We were looking for what could our money buy in terms of space and location, and you get a lot for your money in Culver City," said Carol Lombard, executive producer for post production at T-minus 30.
Just east of the Culver City border in the city of L.A., three industrial buildings are being converted by their respective owners. All three have garnered interest from fast-growing start-ups and firms that want to move from traditional office buildings, said F. Ronald Rader, executive vice president with the Klabin Co., who is handling leasing for the buildings.
"They're looking because of alternatives. Some are looking because of price, some because they can't get what they want in Santa Monica, Venice or Marina del Rey," Rader said.
Unlike Conjunctive Points, those three buildings initially will be upgraded to high-end industrial space and, if a creative office tenant expresses interest, they would be further upgraded to accommodate that tenant, Rader said. "We think there's a market in between the industrial and Fred Smith (Conjunctive Points)," he said.
Yet another conversion project currently underway is Culver Media Center, located farther south on a tree-lined, less-industrial stretch of Jefferson Boulevard in Culver City, said Richard Abbitt, president of Lee & Associates, broker for that project. That complex is owned by Treton Property LLC.
Some Westside brokers predict that creative-office conversions will increasingly extend into heavy industrial sections of the Culver City area.
"The new users will push out the machine shops and industrial users who can't afford 75 cents or $1 a square foot. Those people will move to Gardena," Rader said.
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