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CHIAT

TWBA Chiat/Day Inc. has decided to leave its famed Binoculars Building in Venice and move into a warehouse near Marina del Rey.

L.A.’s largest and arguably highest-profile advertising agency has decided to enter into a long-term lease for a 100,000-square-foot warehouse, located at the corner of Jefferson and Grosvenor boulevards just south of the Marina (90) Freeway.

The industrial space is to be renovated into an office to accommodate the agency’s 420 employees. Jeremy Miller, a spokesman for TWBA Chiat/Day, said the firm has hired Los Angeles-based Clive Wilkinson Architects to overhaul the building, and the agency will move there within a year.

Miller said he did not know TWBA Chiat/Day’s plans for the Binoculars Building, a three-story structure at 340 S. Main St.

The ad agency still has 13 years remaining on its 15-year lease on the distinctive building, which was designed in 1991 by renowned architect Frank Gehry at the behest of Chiat/Day founder Jay Chiat, who wanted a home for his agency that would reflect his visionary “virtual office” concept.

TWBA Chiat/Day has tried to sublease the building to another occupant, but no company would agree to the building’s restrictive lease contract.

The agency’s parent company, Omnicom Group Inc., sold the 73,000-square-foot building to New York-based real estate investment firm W.P Carey & Co. Inc. two years ago for a sum believed to be as high as $250 per square foot, or $18.25 million.

Chiat/Day subsequently signed a 15-year “total bond” lease, which allows no outs for the tenant not even if the building is destroyed by an act of God.

Rumors about a TWBA Chiat/Day move have been circulating for several months, particularly when Hollywood special effects designer Digital Domain seriously looked at the Binoculars Building earlier this year. But talks broke off when Digital Domain decided that the lease was “too ugly to be saddled with,” said a source close to those negotiations.

Miller said TWBA Chiat/Day’s move was prompted not by a desire to get out from under its lease but by the burgeoning size of its work force. He said the ad agency has outgrown the Binoculars Building and has been subleasing 14,000 square feet of additional space at 901 Abbot Kinney Blvd. for several months.

Neil Grossman, chief financial officer for the ad agency, said TWBA Chiat/Day has added about 100 employees over the past year and increased its billings by about $350 million. The ad agency recently won the new Apple Computer advertising account, and it also handles the high-profile Nissan Motor Corp. U.S.A. “Toys” campaign and ABC Television’s distinctive black-type-on-yellow-background print campaign.

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