Only months after Google Inc. signed a massive Venice office lease, social network giant Facebook Inc. is tip-toeing into the Westside market.

The Palo Alto social networking giant has quietly shopped for space and last week signed a letter of intent to lease several thousand square feet in an office complex developed by Tishman Speyer Properties in Playa Vista, said sources knowledgeable of the deal.

The lease was described as anywhere between 8,000 and 15,000 square feet at the four-building Tishman Speyer complex, which was completed a few years ago and is about 80 percent occupied. The 325,000-square-foot complex is home to other tech tenants, including USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies.

Facebook declined any comment and it’s unclear exactly what the company plans to do with the space, which sources said should be ready for occupancy no later than the first quarter of next year. However, the company is rapidly expanding and recently announced it would move its Palo Alto headquarters into a 57-acre in Menlo Park complex formerly occupied by SunMicrosystems. Facebook employs about 2,000 people, nearly two-thirds in the Bay Area, and plans to hire more.

One attraction of Los Angeles is that it has developed into a center for both established and startup gaming companies, including some that are targeting Facebook as a platform. Among the most prominent is Meteor Games, a Beverly Hills company that makes the popular game “Island Paradise.”

In fact, the Westside and Santa Monica have become so popular with tech companies that the nickname “Silicon Beach” is starting to become thrown around. In January, Mountain View-based Google signed a 100,000-square-foot office lease in the Venice complex that includes Frank Gehry’s famous Binoculars Building.

“The Westside is an attractive place to live and that’s important for attracting high-potential candidates,” said Brandon Beck, founder and chief executive of Riot Games, a maker of online games that recently announced a move from Culver City to Santa Monica. “For us, we’ve had to draw from talent locally and bring talent in from the rest of the country and the world.”

Still, the Playa Vista submarket is very young. Development only started a decade ago after the approval of the master planned community. The Tishman Speyer buildings are part of a larger budding development that includes Lincoln Property Co.’s Horizon complex, as well as a creative campus under construction by Ratkovich Co. that includes Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose hangar.

“The issue is it feels a bit like a ghost town. It’s a nice space but there’s not a lot of life down there. If a company like Facebook puts their seal of approval on that area, a lot of companies will follow,” said David Toomey, principal at L.A. brokerage CresaPartners.

Facebook is being represented by Luke Troedson of Studley Inc. in West Los Angeles and Joe Hamilton of Cornish & Carey in Palo Alto, sources said. Neither responded to a request for comment. Tishman leasing director John Ollen also declined to comment.

Apartment Saga

Here’s some advice to anyone thinking about making commercial real estate investments with a spouse: You may want to think twice.

When Ellen and Fred Jacob Weismann purchased a 35-unit apartment building on 5333 Russell Ave. in 1980 just off Hollywood and Western boulevards, they had no idea it would end with both of them seeking to sell the property individually.

The couple divorced about 20 years ago and the building gradually fell into disrepair until each retained a broker and a lawyer and tried to sell the building separately earlier this year.

Last week, the 31,779-square-foot building with a pool was finally sold to ROM Investments Inc. of Los Angeles for a $4.75 million all-cash deal.

“It is extremely distressed,” said Leeor Maciborski, a partner in ROM Investments.

The off-market deal generated multiple offers from competing brokers, but ROM Investments’ offer to close in 21 days with no contingencies sealed the deal, according to Charles Dunn Co. broker Mark Ventre, who was retained by the former wife.

ROM Investments began making renovations to the building as the deal closed. The units are renting for about $900 a month. Maciborski plans to make dramatic improvements and rent them for $700 more.

Russell Manor joins four other nearby apartment complexes in ROM’s portfolio.

Staff reporter Jacquelyn Ryan can be reached at jryan@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 228.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.