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Work Beginning on Santa Monica Project

MaguirePartners plans a four-story, high-end office building on Ocean Avenue, near the proposed Rand Corp. headquarters.


Launching his first new office project in eight years, developer Rob Maguire plans to start construction next month on a four-story, 91,000-square-foot office building in downtown Santa Monica that he says will command some of the highest rents on the Westside.

To be built on the site of the recently demolished Flamingo Hotel, the $15-million office building at 1733 Ocean Ave. will stand directly west of the proposed new headquarters for Rand Corp.

Although the project has no tenants to date, Los Angeles-based MaguirePartners might lease the building's upper three floors to a single tenant, according to Tim Walker, a partner in the firm. A tenant might also have the option to become co-owner of the building.

The project has been awaiting development for a decade. Maguire, who developed some of the largest office buildings in Los Angeles during the 1980s, acquired the property and a second property just west of it in 1989.

He obtained permission from Santa Monica the following year to construct an office building. The architectural design by Santa Monica-based Moore Ruble Yudell was nearly complete at that time.

Walker said Maguire held off from construction until the Westside office market recovered from the recession. Currently, the office vacancy rate in Santa Monica is 2.5%, according to CoStar Group Inc., and lease rates are at historic highs in the city, which is favored by Internet and entertainment companies.

"With the Water Garden complete and the Arboretum fully leased, this building has a very attractive position," said Walker, referring to two of the largest office projects in the city.

The project "has a lot of firepower for a little building," said Maguire, adding that the project would have asking prices of up to $50 per square foot annually, close to the highest office rents in the region. Maguire said tenants in the nearby 100 Wilshire building in Santa Monica are paying comparable rents.

The first floor of the office and retail building will be devoted to stores and restaurants. An interior hallway, modeled loosely after retail buildings in France, will run down the center of the building, providing access from Ocean Avenue to the future Rand campus. The upper three stories will be office space.

The design of the building will feature large outdoor terraces connected to the office space. The terraces will be large enough for meetings and receptions and could be considered "outside rooms," Yudell said.

The Santa Monica project represents a new flurry of activity for Maguire, who has spent much of the last decade trying to develop Playa Vista in West Los Angeles.

Maguire, who spearheaded the project in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is currently a minority partner and is responsible for the future development of 3.6 million square feet of commercial space.

Maguire recently announced the start of construction on the second phase of the 350,000-square-foot Plaza Las Fuentes office complex in Pasadena, and has obtained entitlements to build 700,000 square feet of office space in Glendale.

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