Contributing Reporter

At the risk of sounding monotonous, it was another hot quarter in the Westside.

Vacancy rates continued to decline, a familiar story in what has become L.A.'s strongest business district, and development activity continued apace.

The area's vacancy rate fell to 9.0 percent, the lowest level in two years and down from 9.3 percent in the third quarter, according to Cushman & Wakefield Inc. Rents held steady from the third quarter, averaging $2.39 per square foot per month. However, rents of $3 to $4 were being quoted at prestigious addresses in Beverly Hills, Century City and Santa Monica.

West Los Angeles was the most active submarket in the fourth quarter, with its vacancy rate plummeting to 7.6 percent from 12.7 percent in the previous three months. The building at 11444 W. Olympic was brought to full occupancy when more than 72,000 square feet was leased to Canon Communications and Psomas & Associates.

Another big lease involved cable giant Tele-Communications Inc., which signed a 10-year deal for the 78,000-square-foot building at 12312 W. Olympic Blvd. to house its national digital television division. The building was recently renovated by owner Kilroy Realty Corp., which is expected to break ground this quarter on an adjacent four-story, 150,000-square foot building.

Office space is also at a premium in Westwood (7.6 percent vacancy) and Century City (7.8 percent). Beverly Hills and Brentwood had more space available at the end of the fourth quarter than at the end of the third, but still posted strong vacancy rates of 9.6 and 9.8, respectively.

While the vacancy rate in Marina del Rey/Culver City was 9.7 percent, unchanged from the third quarter, that submarket had major news: After lengthy negotiations, DreamWorks SKG in November signed a definitive agreement to build its headquarters and studio on 47 acres at the Playa Vista project south of Marina del Rey. DreamWorks will be the anchor tenant for The Campus at Playa Vista, a 114-acre site housing entertainment, media and technology companies.

In other development news, groundbreaking for a 10-story, 250,000-square-foot office building is scheduled for the first quarter at Howard Hughes Center in Westchester. Michael Pollack of Arden Realty Inc., one of the center's partners, said developers plan to add 1.3 million square feet of office space at the site.

The largest volume of construction is occurring in Santa Monica, where the vacancy rate fell to 9.2 percent, the lowest level all year. The 2700 Colorado Building is one of the city's hottest properties; 115,000 square feet in the building was leased to several tenants in December, including the J. Paul Getty Trust (40,000 square feet), Microsoft Corp. (25,000) and Pearson TV (20,000).

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