Third quarter net absorption figures in the West Valley gushed into the red: more than 185,000 square feet was put back on the market a direct result of the sub-prime mortgage bloodletting that has swept the nation.


Tenants in the residential home industry title and escrow, appraisers and brokerage were exiting en masse, according to Brian Forster, Executive Vice President with Told Partners in Woodland Hills. "Nearly every mortgage firm in the region is giving back chunks of space," noted Forster. "In some cases, they're just disappearing in the night."


It wasn't just in the West Valley, where Grubb & Ellis Co. reported a sharp spike in vacancy rates to 10.3 percent from 8.3 percent in the second quarter. Office space givebacks, or defaults, in mid-Valley markets including Van Nuys and Sherman Oaks, contributed to a jump in vacancies to 6.8 percent from 5.0 percent in the Central Valley. East Valley vacancies couldn't get any tighter from second quarter's historically low 2.5 percent, but even there, open space still increased in bunches, resulting in a 4.5 percent vacancy rate.


How did landlords view the drubbing? A "temporary hiccup", according to some. And with Class A asking rents continuing to climb, up 44 cents in the East Valley to $3.82 per foot, and up 20 cents in the Central Valley to $2.93 a foot, who can argue? The rate at LNR Warner Center Phase IV, which doesn't come fully online until next spring, was pressing the $3 per-foot mark, 60 cents higher than Warner Center overlord Douglas Emmett was charging for top-end space at the start of the year.


"It's still a landlord-dominated market," Forster said. "Vacancies in the smaller buildings are historically low, so losing one or two 2,500-foot tenants hasn't deterred owners from raising rents. On the high-rise side, everybody feels the money will get flushed back in pretty soon because there's so little new construction. A 5 percent bump (in West Valley rents) in the next few months wouldn't be a surprise."


Valley developers didn't feel the mortgage meltdown would have staying power. After nearly a year on the boards, a $1.3 billion mixed use project at the terminus of the Red Line subway and Orange Line busway on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood, was given the thumbs-up by the MTA. Brentwood-based Lowe Enterprises got the OK to start moving on "NoHo Art Wave," the largest transit-anchored project in L.A. County history. Lowe's plan will bring in almost 2 million square feet of office space, more than 500 apartments, and some 160,000 square feet of retail and entertainment.


MAIN EVENTS

- The Academy Building, at 5200 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood, was bought by Jamison Services Inc. for $59.5 million at a low 5.9 percent cap rate. Irvine-based ZMI Real Estate Advisors sold the 174,118-square-foot office parcel, which is 95 percent leased, for roughly $342 per foot.


- After more than a year of bidding by multiple developers, Brentwood-based Lowe Enterprises got the green light from the Metropolitan Transit Authority to begin planning what will be the largest transit-anchored development in Los Angeles County. The 16-acre "NoHo Art Wave" will add 1.7 million square feet of commercial, residential and retail near the Metro Red Line station in North Hollywood.


- Ixia, a Nasdaq-listed information technology company, renewed its 84,000-square-foot block at Calabasas Corporate Center, 26601 W. Agoura Rd. Terms set by Lincoln Property Co. were in the mid-$2 range with 3 percent annual bumps. Ixia will remain in its corporate headquarters for another five years.


- Brentwood Capital Partners, owners of medium-sized office product in markets such as Valencia and Playa del Rey, bought a 90,000-square-foot building at 19809 Prairie St. in Northridge for $17.15 million, or roughly $190 per square foot. The site is 100 percent leased and branded by Washington Mutual. Seller was Asset Management Consultants Inc. in Mission Hills.


David Geffner

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