Titles: Executive directors
Company: Cushman & Wakefield
Project: The Arts District veterans are handling leasing for Bay + Wilson, a 46,000-square-foot creative office space conversion at 1917 Bay and 932 Wilson streets.
What brought you to this project?
Yoo: Our senior-level brokerage team, Brandon Gill, Brandon Burns and myself, has been handling industrial properties in the L.A.-Central market for a combined 55 years (or so). The Arts District was a submarket we covered, and in the past five to six years, we saw it transition from mostly industrial to creative and residential. We adapted our business with the changing neighborhood where properties like Bay + Wilson are now our focus.
Gill: Through our industrial roots we fostered relationships over the years with many of the property owners in the area. In the last four to five years, the transition of industrial to higher uses has been dramatic where close to 80 properties have traded hands. Our position in the market and timing could not have been better. The ownership, product type, and location makes Bay + Wilson the ideal sales listing for us.
What projects prepared you to take on Bay + Wilson?
Yoo: We have transacted many significant sites that are similar to Bay + Wilson – Ford Motor Factory, Coca-Cola, Art House, Hyperloop Campus and 929 E. Second St. If you take the Arts District as a whole, we have been involved in most of the significant assignments ranging from 10,000 square-foot warehouses to a 15-acre development site. We have also executed leases with tenants such as Lyft, J.Crew and Smashbox.
Gill: Of the top 25 projects in the Arts District listed in Curbed LA, our team was involved in almost two-thirds of those sales in some form. Each provided knowledge and exposure to complexities that prepared us for the next one.
What sets this project apart from others in the Arts District?
Yoo: The majority of the Bay + Wilson property has been improved and is currently being used as creative office. The improvements have been done tastefully, and the property is very well-kept. The other aspect of the building – which is hard to tell from the outside – is that it’s an enclosed campus with a parking lot.
Gill: Bay + Wilson is not an industrial redevelopment. It’s rare to find an existing multitenant creative campus in the Arts District for sale. The property doesn’t require extensive capital or imagination. The capacity for parking is key. Parking is a difficult and costly challenge to solve for in the Arts District.
What are your biggest challenges with this property?
Yoo: The area is in process from industrial so the confidence level is not up to par with the already improved areas of the Arts District, such as the established area north of Fourth Street, which is more pedestrian oriented. However, it was not long ago when people couldn’t grasp what the Arts District was about and had their doubts. Once Warner Music HQ moves in and SoHo House is activated, the dynamics of this immediate pocket will change.
Gill: Definitely don’t judge this book by its cover. From the outside you can’t tell what exists within the walls of this property, but inside showcases that the seller was a pioneer for developing an innovative oasis in an area historically known for recycling and produce. A considerable amount of projects in the area have been industrial conversions where someone was excited with the prospects of creating something new. Bay + Wilson is not a redevelopment and someone can’t put their mark on it.
What impact will this project have on downtown?
Yoo: The tenant mix at the property is creative industries, and with more creative tenants settling into the Arts District, there is sure to be symbiosis among this sector. The project is composed of two, two-storied warehouses, which can be deemed functionally obsolete by today’s industrial building standards. By keeping it a creative campus by means of adaptive reuse, it provides jobs to the area and maintains the aesthetics, history and culture of the Arts District.
Gill: Bay + Wilson is another flag to be planted in an area that may be arguably the most impressive and edgy part of the Arts District. The project gives credence to what is happening south of Seventh Street. It’s creating more critical mass and helps the narrative for the expansion of the Arts District south to the 10 freeway. This neighborhood has a rich history for industry and commerce – but it’s in the midst of a revolution and is transitioning to the next era. It’s exciting to see these old buildings get a second shot at being special.
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