Cydcor Inc., an outsource sales operations company based in Westlake Village, has recommitted to the Conejo Valley, an office market that's been hit hard by the real estate slowdown.

The company is moving from its space at 30699 Russell Ranch Road to a full floor at a new Westlake Village office project called Westlake Park Place.

The company's nine-year lease at 3011 Townsgate Road nearly doubles the size of its previous Westlake Village office, and is valued at $6 million, according to Conejo Valley real estate sources.

Bryan Lewitt of Cushman & Wakefield Inc. said that Cydcor looked for new space throughout the area before deciding on Westlake Park. While Lewitt did not disclose the lease start rate of the November transaction, he said the soft Conejo Valley submarket made it a good time to cut a deal.

"It's one of the softest submarkets that I'm working in," said Lewitt, who represented Cydcor in the 19,074-square-foot lease with the landlord, a joint venture of Denver-based private equity firm Amstar Group and Newport Beach-based developer Steadfast Cos.

The Conejo Valley submarket has been hurt by the downsizing of Countrywide Financial Corp., the beleaguered mortgage lender acquired by Bank of America earlier this year. Recently, Countrywide has sold one office building and allowed leases to expire at others. Other smaller mortgage companies also left the market, Lewitt said.

In the third quarter, the Conejo Valley vacancy rate was 15.8 percent, more than double from a year earlier, according to Grubb & Ellis Co. "I see the market continuing to be soft in the next three to five years in the Conejo Valley," Lewitt said.

Cydcor, which has 80 employees in Westlake Village, provides sales forces to companies such as Verizon Wireless and Staples. Gary Polson, chief executive of Cydcor, said that his company preferred to stay in the area. "We felt we were able to work out a great lease that is good for us and good for Steadfast."

The five-building Westlake Park Place project opened this year. Cydcor will move into its new space in mid-January, once build-out is complete. "It's the newest and nicest and best project in the Conejo and it has a great location near the freeway with a lot of amenities," Lewitt said.

The tenant also was represented by Chris Isola of Cushman & Wakefield and the landlord was represented by Michael Foxworthy and Tom Festa of Daum Commercial.

Six Billion-Dollar Man

The topsy turvy real estate market is causing some shuffling among real estate brokers.

Michael Ross, a commercial real estate broker for 28 years who has handled $6 billion in transactions, has left Colliers International Property Consultants Inc. for Grubb & Ellis Co.

Ross began work in Grubb's downtown office last week and will work on office, industrial, retail and mixed-use sales, long his niche.

"I really felt Grubb & Ellis wants to build a market share in a down market and has some great senior managers from the top down," said Ross. "They did let go a good amount of people that were not making the grade, and at the same time they are hiring senior people to be replacements for those people."

Ross' hire does follow on the heels of another high profile move; in October the company brought on Jeffrey Thompson, a longtime industrial broker.

Ross left Colliers two weeks ago and went directly to this new job; there was no vacation or time to relax because the market demands his attention, he said.

"You've got to be ready as the market changes again, you've got to be there before it starts," he said. "There will be more transactions in 2009."

Santa Monica Lease

Jakks Pacific Inc., a Malibu-based toy manufacturer, has signed a seven-year lease for showroom and creative office space in Santa Monica.

The deal for 18,370 square feet at 2700 Pennsylvania Ave. is valued at over $5 million.

The space will include a showroom that Jakks can use to display its products to retailers, said Blake Mirkin, a CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. broker who represented the toy maker in the deal with landlord Welk Real Estate Group.

"It will be able to highlight many of their products," said Mirkin, adding the company wanted a Santa Monica showroom because of the proximity to its Malibu headquarters.

"It is a very cool build out. It has very high ceilings with very creative, dramatic architecture," said Mirkin. Jakks is expected to move in two months.

Welk Real Estate was represented by Tim Dornan of Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services.

Staff reporter Daniel Miller can be reached at miller@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 263.

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