While office rents in Santa Monica are as high as $3.43 a square foot, comparable space goes for only $1.51 a foot around the airport.

As space gets scarcer in the South Bay, companies are beginning to recycle their land. An example of the trend is Boeing Co.'s project. It is taking a former McDonnell Douglas plant in Long Beach and demolishing more than 100 buildings to erect a new office and industrial park on the site.

The project is ambitious. Boeing plans to take 230 acres of the 370 acres formerly devoted to aircraft construction in Long Beach and convert it into 5 million square feet of office space.

"Reuse is the direction Los Angeles is going. We're running out of space, especially in the South Bay where industrial vacancies are down," said Stephen Craig, information manager in the research department at CB Richard Ellis. "We're going to see more and more of this."

The Boeing project, called PacifiCenter@Long Beach, is targeting high-tech industry tenants, who need the electrical power, fiber optics and telecommunications services Boeing already has in the area.

"We have a surplus of property and it's necessary to transition it," said Philip W. Cyburt, president of Boeing Realty Corp., which is master developer of the property.

The first buildings probably won't be completed for another four years, while Boeing develops a master plan and does an environmental impact report.

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