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L.A. Cellular Starting Work on New Main Office


Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Co. is breaking ground today on a new $60-million headquarters in Cerritos that will be one of the first virtually wireless offices in the Southland.

When the building opens in October 1999, more than 1,000 employees will be in reach of their telephones, no matter where they are at the site. These employees will be able to take their phones, which will operate via the company's digital network, and wander around the 225,000-square-foot headquarters without missing a call.

"You can actually call a person and not a place," said Hank Bonde, L.A. Cellular's president.

Although many cellular phones have a hard time with reception in office buildings, the phones in L.A. Cellular's building should have no problem, because antennas the size of smoke alarms will be built into each floor.

The telecommunications company plans to use its system to demonstrate a wireless office system that it is trying to pitch to clients such as movie studios and luxury hotels, Bonde said.

One of its first clients, a four-star hotel in Beverly Hills, will give the phones to guests to use at no charge in their rooms, by the pool or elsewhere in the hotel. If a guest takes a phone off the premises, the hotel charges a per-minute rate as with conventional cellular phone service.

The new seven-story building is the first phase of a two-building campus, which L.A. Cellular is renting from Los Angeles-based CommonWealth Partners in Cerritos Towne Center. The company's second building, a four-story, 100,000-square-foot structure, will break ground later this year.

The two projects are expected to net Cerritos, which owns the land, $10.5 million in rent and taxes over the next 20 years, according to Mayor John Crawley.

L.A. Cellular has outgrown its current facility in the same office park. Employment at the company has more than doubled over the last four years to 2,000 people, the company said.

The building was designed by Helmuth Obata & Kasselbaum and is being built by Dinwiddie Construction Co.

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