A new region is emerging as a top destination for tech companies, many of which have outgrown their pricey Westside digs.

Once a haven for aerospace companies and manufacturers seeking proximity to Los Angeles International Airport, the El Segundo area is attracting an increasing number of growing tech companies that can't find or can't afford large blocks of space in such coveted areas as Santa Monica.

Numerous leases in the South Bay have been signed recently, and more deals are on the way. About half a dozen Westside tech companies are each currently seeking 50,000 square feet or more in or near El Segundo, and many tech companies already located in that area are looking to expand, real estate brokers said.

"(People) want to live and work by the coast," explained Craig Meyer of the Seeley Co. "The market has turned 180 degrees. It used to be that the L.A. Airport was the demarcation zone; nobody from the north went south of there, and nobody from the south went north. Today it's the 405 Freeway."

The trend isn't expected to slow anytime soon.

"There's been hundreds of thousands of square feet of old technologies and new technologies that are going (to El Segundo and elsewhere in the South Bay). That will continue regardless of space availability on the Westside," said Grafton Tanquary of CB Richard Ellis.

The trend is so pronounced that "El Segundo is being referred to as the lower Westside," said Kevin Shannon of Grubb & Ellis Co.

Cheaper space

Carparts.com employees are preparing for their July move to a 24,000-square-foot space at 222 N. Sepulveda Blvd., combining the company's two current offices at 3000 Ocean Park Blvd. in Santa Monica and 11845 W. Olympic Blvd. in West L.A.

"We're busting at the seams," said Peter McLaughlin, director of communications for Carparts.com. "We need room for the growth we're experiencing and to consolidate the couple of offices we have now."

The company chose El Segundo because it offers what the Westside is lacking: cheaper space.

"It is certainly more economical to lease the space that we need in El Segundo than it is in Santa Monica," McLaughlin said. "The fact is, not many properties are available (in Santa Monica) for the space that we need, and what is available is very expensive."

One of the first companies to vacate Westside digs for a new home in El Segundo was software maker Candle Corp., which moved last fall from the Water Garden in Santa Monica to a 320,000-square-foot campus on North Douglas Street.

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