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Big Projects Testify to Warner Center's Lure for Businesses

December 07, 1985|DANIEL AKST | Times Staff Writer

Several major projects are in the works that could add 2 million square feet of office space and a third hotel to the booming Warner Center area of Woodland Hills.

The new projects would increase by 40% the office space built or under construction in the western San Fernando Valley.

One developer is seeking city approval for 950,000 square feet of offices in a cluster of buildings of up to eight stories adjacent to Pierce College. A second developer has applied for a minor zoning change for an eight-story office building and 250-room hotel on Victory Boulevard, in a development expected to include 750,000 square feet of offices.

Three smaller projects are also planned for the area, once the ranch of movie mogul Jack Warner.

The new projects are evidence that developers remain willing to commit huge sums to Warner Center despite the office glut all over the Southland.

"We're very concerned with the market," said Century City-based developer Jack Spound, who said he is prepared to spend $150 million on the project next to Pierce. But, he insisted: "Right now, the market in Warner Center is excellent."

In a recent survey of large office buildings, the national real estate firm of Grubb & Ellis found 5.1 million square feet of space built or under construction in the West Valley, with 16% of the completed space vacant. But the vacancy rate was higher in other areas, 17.5% downtown, for example, and 20% in the East Valley.

The two largest proposed projects would be the biggest in Warner Center, aside from those of Robert Voit and Norman Kravetz, whose companies have competing and partly built high-rise and hotel developments that will have 2.4 million square feet of offices.

Spound's project, slated for 21 acres east of DeSoto Avenue between Oxnard and Erwin streets, is being developed by Warner Ridge Associates, a joint venture of the Spound Co. and Johnson Wax Development Co., of Racine, Wis.

Because the site is zoned for large-lot residential development, it will eventually need City Council approval. The developers have begun that process by submitting the project to a citizens' committee appointed by Councilwoman Joy Picus.

"It looks like we're heading in a direction where we can achieve some resolution," said Pierce College President David Wolf, a member of the committee.

Spound said the property was acquired "eight or nine months ago" from what is now the Casden Co. of Beverly Hills. Spound declined to disclose the price. The former owners had proposed a large, dense residential development, but community opposition killed it, Wolf said.

"We'd like to break ground in the fourth quarter of 1986," he said, adding that plans are to build in phases of 100,000 to 150,000 square feet over the next six or seven years.

The other major project is being planned for the south side of Victory Boulevard between Topanga Canyon and Owensmouth Avenue by the Lowe Development Corp. of Brentwood and May Centers, a unit of St. Louis-based May Department Stores Co. The site now contains parking lots and low-rise structures.

Officials of both companies were unavailable for comment, but Valley real estate experts said the project is expected to contain 750,000 square feet of offices and a hotel. The latter will have to compete with the new Marriott on the Voit property and a Hilton planned for Kravetz's Trillium project.

According to Santa Monica architect Herbert Nadel, the three smaller projects in the works for Warner center are:

- A 12-story, 232,000-square-foot office building on the south side of Victory Boulevard east of Canoga Avenue, planned by Los Angeles developer John Long.

- A two-step development involving a pair of three-story office buildings, each with 150,000 square feet, planned by developer Greg Hoffman for the south side of Burbank Boulevard about 350 feet east of Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

- A three-story, 60,000-square-foot office building, also planned by Hoffman, on the southeast corner of Burbank and Topanga.

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