While one might expect fishy conditions to be more likely near seaports than airports, a stretch of 104th Street near Los Angeles International Airport is emerging as an exception.

Sea Dwelling Creatures Inc., an importer and distributor of tropical fish, has signed a $1.7 million, seven-year lease for 24,000 square feet of industrial space at 5513-15 W. 104th St.

The move, slated to occur May 1, will create a critical fish mass of sorts. Cohen's main competitors, Quality Marine and Drexler Marine Fish, are located on the same street.

Co-owner Scott Cohen said that Sea Dwelling Creatures simply ran out of room at its original 8,000-square-foot location at the Crenshaw Business Complex in Hawthorne.

"We've gone up as high as we can in this facility," Cohen said. "The place we're moving into gives us room to grow in the next four to seven years. We've stayed here a year too long."

The company's new space, located a mere 30 yards from cargo operations at LAX, is probably best known as the former home of FedEx.

Workers are renovating the new place right now, and Cohen said the target date for the move is May 1. When it's done, the new space will have aquariums holding 70,000 gallons of salt water, which Cohen said makes it one of the largest importing and distributing facilities in the world.

While the Hawthorne site is close to LAX, Cohen said that every mile traveled in Los Angeles can be an adventure.

"We're only five miles east of the airport, but that can translate to 30 minutes in traffic," Cohen said. That's a long time for a tropical fish to be cruising.

The company set out to find between 16,000 and 20,000 square feet, but came up empty. When the FedEx space became available, it made sense to take it for about 80 cents a square foot, per month, which is 14 percent greater than the 70-cent rate that Sea Dwelling Creatures is paying today, Cohen said.

Also in the neighborhood, Los Angeles World Airports has leased a 10,607-square-foot office in the Airport Spectrum Building at 5757 W. Century Blvd. in Westchester.

It will be home to the LAX Jobs Center, part of the formalization of LAWA's ongoing Small Business and Job Opportunities Division.

"Until the jobs center, there really wasn't a centralized location for all available jobs at LAX," said airport Commissioner Warren Valdry. "A community-based office provides a solid foundation toward facilitating employment opportunities at LAX and creating an even playing field on which small businesses can reasonably compete for contract and procurement opportunities."

The 5757 W. Century building has been a white elephant, but it was purchased for about $20 million a year ago by Van Nuys-based Decron Corp., and Decron has just started renovating the property.

The building went up in 1981 in the rush of commercial development along the LAX corridor. The corridor lost its luster in the 1990s recession, as aerospace firms downsized.

P.R. Deal

Rogers & Associates has renewed and expanded its lease at Watt Plaza in Century City. The six-year, $7.6 million deal gives the L.A.-based public relations company 36,000 square feet of space.

Rogers & Associates has been at Watt Plaza for eight years and has used the new availability of contiguous space to consolidate its operations in the building.

"Our firm has grown to more than 90 employees in the past year," said CEO Ron Rogers. "We have had space on several floors throughout the building to accommodate our business."

Rogers & Associates has enlisted the services of Wolcott Interior Planning & Design and Gregg Holwick Construction to complete tenant improvements connecting the space.

Jeff Resnick, president of First Property Realty Corp., represented Rogers & Associates in the transaction. Ed Collins, director of leasing for Watt Plaza, represented Watt Commercial Properties.

Building Sales

Torrance-based Haagen Co. has bought the Redondo Shores Shopping Center on Pacific Coast Highway for $22.4 million.

Haagen CFO Donald Kelley Jr. said that Haagen will make extensive improvements to the exterior of the center, including painting, signage and lighting.

Redondo Shores Shopping Center, located three blocks east of the Redondo Beach pier, packs 107,000 square feet of retail and restaurant businesses and 473 above- and underground parking spaces into 5.93 acres. The center is anchored by a Whole Foods Market.

Kelley said the center is 97 percent leased and a lease deal with a French restaurant for the final spot is in the works.

In another recent building buy, an investment partnership affiliated with Shaoul Levy of Santa Monica bought Broadway West for $13.6 million.

Levy bought the mixed-use building from Broadway West General Partnership, the original developer of the property.

The building, which contains 48 luxury apartments and 21,000 square feet of commercial space over two levels of underground parking, is 100-percent occupied.

Staff reporter Christopher Keough can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 235 or by e-mail at ckeough@labusinessjournal.com.

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