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WOODLAND HILLS : Long Vacant Office Building Gets Tenant

October 07, 1994|KAY HWANGBO

Warner Center Plaza III, a 25-story office building, has its first tenant after nearly three years of standing empty.

Last month, PaineWebber stock brokerage moved into the ground floor of the 585,000-square-foot tower at Oxnard Street and Owensmouth Avenue in Woodland Hills. PaineWebber is occupying 11,550 square feet of the first floor.

"It's nice to have the building open, to show brokerage and tenant companies there are opportunities . . . in the West Valley market," said John Gebhardt, senior vice president of the building's developer, Voit Cos.

Real estate broker Seth Dudley said that a number of factors made it difficult for Warner Center Plaza III to get tenants since it opened in November, 1991. In 1992, it competed for tenants with another Warner Center office building, also built by Voit, he said.

The following year, according to Dudley, the building's owner was not actively seeking tenants because it was trying to sell the tower. The building was eventually sold to The New England life insurance company.

During the first half of this year, New England didn't lease the building because it was tied up in unsuccessful negotiations to lease it to 20th Century Industries Inc.

In the third quarter of this year, Warner Center Plaza III accounted for 30.2% of the vacancy rate in West Valley office buildings, which was 20.1%, according to Stewart Day, head of research for brokerage Cushman & Wakefield of California Inc.

Broker Mike Zugsmith said that New England appeared to be softening its initial stance that it only wanted to lease the building to a company that would occupy all of it.

"I think that financial considerations, and their inability to obtain a tenant of the size they wanted have forced the ownership to adjust to the market," Zugsmith said.

Zugsmith and Dudley said that New England's prospects of finding more tenants are good.

"I expect the building to be half leased in the next six months," Dudley said.

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