After converting a former Xerox Corp. facility in El Segundo into nearly 200,000 square feet of creative work space, developer NSB Associates has begun construction on an adjacent parcel for a building designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry.

The 80,000-square-foot project, called Ascend, will become part of NSB’s Utah Avenue Campus, which is half-leased to Kite Pharma Inc., according to Kite. Gehry’s light-filled design is shown in renderings to be perched over an open-air parking garage surrounded by plants and trees.

“This was about creating an environment that energizes and promotes interactivity,” Gehry said in a statement.

Just don’t expect any of the steel or radical angles of Gehry’s iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown or the chain-link fencing of his Santa Monica home. The El Segundo office building, as depicted, will essentially look like a rectangular box painted in light green with a baby blue balcony. It is slated to become available in the fall.

NSB, based in Beverly Hills, purchased the Xerox site in 2008 for $8.4 million, according to CoStar’s real estate database. Jones Lang LaSalle’s Mike McRoskey, Blake Searles, Evan Moran, and Jason Fine are the project’s leasing agents.

Gehry, 88, has several other L.A. projects on the drawing board. His Playa Vista-based Gehry Partners is designing mixed-use projects on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and on Grand Avenue in downtown as well as the Children’s Institute campus in Watts. He is also consulting with the nonprofit River LA on the effort to plan landscaping, design, and development along the Los Angeles River.

Seeing San Pedro

Molina Healthcare is taking close to 100,000 square feet at San Pedro’s Topaz office tower. The deal is one of the South Bay’s largest office leases in the last five years, according to CBRE, which represented landlord Jupiter Holdings.

CBRE’s Tim Vaughan said Molina will retain its headquarters in Long Beach and sees the health care’s company interest in neighboring San Pedro as a sign of spillover.

“This is a real viable alternative,” Vaughan said. “There are a lot of things that add up that make sense for at least considering that location.”

He declined to provide terms of the lease, but said area rates are roughly $2 to $2.50 a square foot, full-service gross, which is roughly on par with Long Beach. The deal brings occupancy in the 11-story building, which is also leased to Marymount California University, AltaSea, and the city of Long Beach, to roughly 85 percent.

Jupiter, based in Newport Beach, purchased the building in 2013 for $21.5 million, according to CoStar, and did renovations to bring the 26-year-old property up to modern standards.

Sitting a couple of blocks from the waterfront, Topaz overlooks the Port of Los Angeles and is within walking distance of the Ports O’ Call Village, where Ratkovich Co. and Jerico Development Inc. are planning a $150 million renovation in partnership with the city of Los Angeles.

Local Opportunity

Sunny Hills Management Co. Inc. purchased the San Gabriel Valley’s tallest office tower this month for $37.5 million, the company said. The 13-story property sits less than a mile from Sunny Hills’ headquarters, so the company jumped on the acquisition when it came to market through a Ten-X online auction.

“We know this market and building well,” Paul Justice, Sunny Hills’ asset manager, said in a statement. “We already knew the tremendous opportunity we would have to reposition it as the premier office building in the region.”

The 225,920-square-foot building is half-occupied, with tenants including the State of California’s Franchise Tax Board, the U.S. Department of Labor, and Eastland Executive Office Suites.

Centralizing City Offices

The Los Angeles City Council is considering a proposal that would centralize city offices in downtown’s Civic Center.

The plan includes construction of two office towers – one with 750,000 square feet at the site of Parker Center, the former police headquarters, and an additional 450,000 square feet at the L.A. Mall, an underground shopping center topped by a public plaza.

The council was scheduled to vote March 24 on the certification of the project’s environmental impact report, which a council committee has recommended. A “yes” vote would also instruct the city’s administrative officer to submit a financial analysis, such as a possible public-private partnership.

The city employs more than 5,500 people in 1.6 million square feet of office space spanning at least 10 sites across downtown. Its effort to rethink that system is designed to increase efficiencies and cut costs.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the name spelling of Tim Vaughan of CBRE.

Staff reporter Daina Beth Solomon can be reached at dsolomon@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 556-8337.

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