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Commercial Scene : Sepulveda Boulevard Is on the Rise : Emerging as a major, but complementary, office corridor to Valley's Ventura Blvd.

March 26, 1989|DAVID M. KINCHEN | Times Staff Writer and

With land prices roughly half those of congested Ventura Boulevard, with better freeway access and with fewer restrictions on building, Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys is emerging as a new office corridor in the San Fernando Valley.

Sepulveda is not threatening Ventura Boulevard as a prestige office location in the Valley, but it is being upgraded with buildings that rival the more established street in design and amenities, according to developers, commercial real estate brokers, architects, city officials and building occupants.

A mix of single-user and speculative office buildings, free-standing stores and strip shopping centers will maintain the street's reputation for diversity, but will change its character for office-space seekers, according to commercial brokers and developers, who see Sepulveda not as competing with Ventura, but as a complementary location for large-space users.

Leasing agent John Battle attributes much of the interest in Sepulveda Boulevard to the availability of fairly large parcels of land at about half the cost as sites on Ventura Boulevard.

Lower Land Costs

"Most of the Sepulveda sites sold have been in the $40- to $50-per-square-foot range, quite an escalation from the mid-$20 land prices of a few years ago, but well below the $100-per-square-foot and more charged for land on Ventura Boulevard," said Battle, who handles properties on both Sepulveda and Ventura.

John Lewis of the Lewis Co., a developer active on Ventura Boulevard, said that recent Ventura Boulevard land sales have exceeded $100 a square foot. He said land on Sepulveda Boulevard has ranged from $35-$50 a square foot in recent sales.

"It only makes sense to develop the major north-south streets, like Sepulveda and Van Nuys boulevards, which are less congested than Ventura Boulevard," said Dodo Meyer, principal administrative coordinator for the mayor's office in the San Fernando Valley.

She said the city is pleased by the quality of development under way on Sepulveda and hopes the trend will continue on adjacent stretches of Sherman Way.

Freeway Access

A major factor in the new popularity of the Sepulveda Corridor is easy access from the Interstate 405 and U.S. 101 freeways, according to a number of sources, including building tenants.

Another factor that might account for Sepulveda's emergence is its proximity to the Van Nuys Airport and the non-scheduled passenger and freight service available at the airport, Meyer said.

A major showpiece of the new Sepulveda Corridor will be Tri Center Plaza, a $35-million, six-story, 144,000-square-foot office building at the southeast corner of Sepulveda Boulevard and Oxnard Street.

Construction is expected to start in June on the project, with completion scheduled for June, 1990, according to the developer, Howard Smuckler of Saunders Development Corp., Woodland Hills.

Former Builders Emporium

Designed by the Nadel Partnership of West Los Angeles, the blue solar-glass-and-granite-faced building will go up on land formerly occupied by the original, late-1940s-vintage Builders Emporium home center, Smuckler said.

A new Builders Emporium has opened on adjacent land retained by the Wickes Cos., parent firm of Builders Emporium.

"We expect to attract attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, the same kind of professional tenants that would rent in buildings on Ventura Boulevard," Smuckler said.

The Tri Center Plaza project was faced with restrictions on the size of building permitted on the 133,000-square-foot site, according to architect Robert Jacques of Nadel, which has designed about half a dozen new buildings in the corridor.

Floor Ratio Imposed

As a condition of the sale of the land to Saunders Development, Builders Emporium imposed a 1.1-to-1 floor-area ratio (FAR) on the site, allowing a 144,000-square-foot building.

The normal FAR in the Sepulveda Corridor is 1.5 to 1, meaning that a developer could build a 150,000-square-foot building on a 100,000-square-foot site, he said.

Tri Center's leasing agent is Battle, of Beitler Commercial Realty Services in Sherman Oaks. He also puts together lease deals on Ventura Boulevard.

"Ventura Boulevard has a three-story height limit the entire length of the street, in contrast to Sepulveda Boulevard, which has no limit on the height of a building," Battle said, in explaining the street's popularity.

"The two areas are complementary, rather than competitive, since large-space users--those who need 20,000 square feet or more contiguous space--can often fill their needs more easily on Sepulveda."

Large Space Limited

He said that only the City National Bank Building, 16133 Ventura Blvd., and the Encino Terrace Center, 15821 Ventura Blvd., can now supply 20,000 square feet or more on Ventura Boulevard.

Across Oxnard Street from the Tri Center Plaza site, at the northeast corner of Oxnard and Sepulveda, is the Electro Rent project, the first phase of which is a 84,480-square-foot building occupied by Electro Rent Corp.

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