November 17, 2015
Connect Media caught up with David Toomey, principal, Cresa Los Angeles, who will be one of the speakers at Connect Westside Los Angeles on Dec. 2. In addition to speaking about the tech and media companies active on the Westside, he discussed what it was like working on The Honest Company deal in Playa Vista with celebrity Jessica Alba.
Can you summarize the Westside market, in terms of activity, trends, and highlights?
The Westside office market has been extremely active for the past three to four years. Demand has been driven primarily by tech and media sectors, and companies that support those industries. Steady demand has emboldened landlords on the Westside to hold out for rental rates in the $4s and $5s, and into the $6s in parts of Santa Monica. At the same time, availability remains high at 19%, and more buildings are scheduled to come online in the next 12 to 18 months. It begs the question, are we heading back to a tenant’s market?
What sets the Westside market apart from others in Southern California?
The Westside is ground zero for the tech and digital media industries in Southern California. It started with Santa Monica back in the late ‘90s, and into the 2000s. While tech companies are spread throughout Los Angeles, the highest concentration of these companies is found in the Westside. What’s been interesting is to see the growth of the tech community well beyond Santa Monica to submarkets like Playa Vista, Culver City, El Segundo, and more recently Hollywood. Smart developers have figured out what tech companies are looking for, and they are building that type of product to attract them. Santa Monica is no longer the only place to be.
What’s an example of a recent deal you completed?
The Honest Company took 83,000 square feet of space for its headquarters in a deal we finalized this year at i|o at Playa Vista, located at 12130 Millennium Drive. They took the top three floors and are scheduled to move into the space in spring 2016. This was an exciting transaction and good for the market as the tech and media industries continue to grow on the Westside.
How did the Honest Company deal in Playa Vista come about? Any interesting highlights working with Jessica Alba?
The Honest Company is a success story involving Jessica Alba and her other co-founders Brian Lee, Christopher Gavigan and Sean Kane. The business is growing at an impressive rate and their future is bright. When we began the real estate process, their preference was to stay in Santa Monica, but they were open to neighboring submarkets. They were looking for a building that would offer a compelling work environment for their employees, because the employee-experience was at the top of their list of requirements. After evaluating properties in Santa Monica, we began to explore options in Playa Vista and we found some very unique and creative offerings down there. One of the requirements was outdoor space that their employees and visitors could enjoy. The building they ultimately selected has a 12,000 square foot private roof deck off their main floor, with retractable walls that will make it an extension of their indoor space. It’s going to be spectacular.
Jessica was very involved in the selection of the building and the design of the space. She is actively involved in the business and was very hands-on during the real estate process. She and her team are very smart and forward thinking, so their success to date is no surprise.