Culver City officials and the Chamber of Commerce are placing billboards in Century City, Hollywood and other Westside locations to attract business tenants to two of the city's largest new office developments.
The promotion campaign, with the message "Culver City: Where Your Business Belongs," will help the city compete with others that provide office space for the entertainment business and service industries, officials said.
"Culver City historically has had a fairly low profile," said Mayor Paul A. Netzel, who added that Glendale, Carson and other cities have adopted similar programs with their chambers of commerce. "(The campaign is) really a matter of keeping pace with the competition. You have to take some major steps to set yourself apart."
The city Redevelopment Agency allocated $44,000 to the Culver City chamber to pay for four billboards promoting the Filmland Corporate Center and the Robertson Business Park. Both office projects are located on once-blighted land bought by the agency and sold to the projects' developers.
A billboard featuring Filmland appeared in Century City two months ago and was recently moved to Highland Avenue in Hollywood near the Hollywood Bowl. One featuring the Robertson Business Park was placed near the project at La Cienega and Jefferson boulevards.
The chamber will put up two other billboards once it decides where to place them, said David Paradis, the chamber's executive vice president.
Paradis said officials want to promote the city's name along with the buildings. Advertising the $80-million Filmland building indicates that Culver City, the site of MGM studios and Laird International Studios, identifies itself with the film industry, he said.
"In the past, people have confused parts of Culver City with parts of West L.A.," he said. "Many of the (movies) made in Culver City (studios) were dubbed 'Made in Hollywood.' A great deal of name recognition that should have been made for the city by some of its major industries did not happen."
The effort to promote Filmland is directed toward film executives and producers in Hollywood, Paradis said. The chamber is selling Culver City as a place with cleaner streets, cleaner air and less crime than the Hollywood district, he said.
The eight-story, red-and-pink-granite Filmland building was built by the Culver City-based Filmcorp Group to serve as a center for the entertainment business. The building is in the city's downtown area within several blocks of the MGM and Laird studios.
So far, Filmcorp has rented about 40% of the building's 360,000 square feet of office space and recently rented its entire third floor to MGM/UA Communications Co., said Patricia Sosh, Filmcorp's publicity director.
The chamber's billboards have attracted more inquiries than Filmcorp's own billboards set up earlier this year in Hollywood, she said.
Despite the building's 60% vacancy rate now, Sosh said Filmcorp expects occupancy to be much higher when the building is fully opened in mid-November.
The Robertson Business Park, completed last December, has met with more success. The nearly three-acre, $11-million business park has only a 13% vacancy rate, said Rubin Urcis, the project's developer.
Most of its tenants are in service industries and includes architects and business consultants. The project's major tenant is Federal Express, the mail delivery firm that rented more than a third of the project's 86,000 square feet of office space.
One reason for the park's success, Urcis said, is its location in northern Culver City on Robertson Boulevard next to the Santa Monica Freeway and close to Century City and Beverly Hills.
Urcis said that many prospective tenants have called him after seeing the billboards. One such inquiry resulted in his leasing a 2,000-square-foot office, he said.
The city has paid for other chamber activities intended to promote the city, including the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which attempts to attract tourists and conventions to Culver City.
The promotion campaign for the two buildings will continue into next year, and the billboards will be moved to new locations every four months, Paradis said.