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Firms Settle by 'Silicon Freeway'

June 01, 1986|DAVID M. KINCHEN | Times Staff Writer

It's almost a cliche in the commercial and industrial real estate market that Ventura County is at that stage of development where Orange County was 10 to 15 years ago.

It would be a cliche, except that so much is taking place to make it a reality. Despite increasing no-growth sentiment toward residential development, virtually all of the communities along the Ventura Freeway in the 26-mile sector from Woodland Hills to Newbury Park are seeing rapid commercial and industrial growth.

In the last five years, 15 firms have settled in Westlake Village, just one of the communities along what is now officially the world's busiest freeway.

In addition to multitenant and single-user office space on both sides of the freeway, there has been an upsurge in the development of research-and-development buildings, a combination of office space in the front and/or mezzanine with manufacturing space occupying most of the building.

Formed Technology Corridor

Seven development firms have formed the Technology Corridor Assn. (TCA) to promote what might be called the "Silicon Freeway."

The seven are Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, Currey-Riach Co., the Johnston Group, Kaiser Development Co., Voit Cos., Katell Properties Inc. and the Sammis Co.

The TCA was formed last October to promote the business, educational, residential and other opportunities available in Woodland Hills, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park, according to TCA president Brad Rosenberg of the Johnston Group.

Commenting on a recent TCA tour of the area with 22 brokers from Ventura to the South Bay participating, Rosenberg said it was important to get the word out that there is such a thing as a "technology corridor."

Major Corporations Moved

"They (the brokers) need to get out there and actually see the communities and the developments," he added. "It's not enough to see a photograph or get a brochure."

Rosenberg points to corporate relocation moves by such major firms as Lockheed, which will move its headquarters from Burbank to Calabasas later this spring, and General Telephone, which last year moved from Santa Monica to the former Prudential headquarters in Westlake Village.

Lockheed wanted to locate in a campus-like setting, away from the congestion of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport, according to Barbara Reinike, corporate community affairs manager for the aerospace firm.

While the primary purpose of the General Telephone relocation was to consolidate a number of scattered offices, according to spokesman Kevin Laverty, a major reason for choosing the corridor was its abundance of affordable housing, at least compared with the Westside.

Land Less Expensive

Land zoned for manufacturing is often half as expensive in the corridor as it is in more established areas of the San Fernando Valley, according to Bob Pope of Grubb & Ellis.

"If and when you can find it, land in the San Fernando Valley is selling for upwards of $18 a square foot, compared with $8 to $10 in the corridor," he said.

Among the benefits of the corridor, according to Gerald Katell of Katell Properties Inc., are less crime and congestion and a large base of reliable workers.

As housing prices have risen in the San Fernando Valley, developers have moved westward in increasing numbers. The most recent occupants of the houses built by the developers all too often are the first to call for growth caps in their new communities.

Small Users Predominate

Commenting on the high-tech aspects of Ventura County, Ernest V. Siracusa Jr., of the Siracusa Co., said that "particularly because of the continued downturn in the electronics industry, Ventura County has attracted few large high-tech users in recent months, and we do not foresee a significant improvement until at least the second half of 1986."

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