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Specialty Relocating to Valencia

The Santa Monica biomedical firm will build on 13.8 acres it acquired from Newhall Land & Farming.

January 15, 2002|BOB HOWARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Santa Monica-based biomedical firm, Specialty Laboratories Inc., will build a new headquarters in Valencia in one of two major real estate developments announced last week by the Newhall Land & Farming Co.

Specialty, which provides laboratory testing services for hospitals and clinics, said it will build a three-story 200,000-square-foot combination laboratory and administrative building on a 13.8-acre site that the company acquired from Newhall Land.

No groundbreaking date has been set, but the Santa Monica company expects to begin soon and to complete the new facility by the summer of 2003, said Fred Spina, Specialty's chief financial officer.

Two floors of the building will be devoted to laboratory and research operations and one floor to administration, according to Spina. He said Specialty, which now operates in about 100,000 square feet of leased space in a number of buildings in Santa Monica, needs room to expand and consolidate.

Specialty's new facility will be in Valencia Corporate Center, a 64-acre business park at the Interstate 5 Freeway and Valencia Boulevard where a number of biomedical companies already have facilities. Among them are Advanced Bionics and Allecure, both founded by biomedical entrepreneur and philanthropist Alfred Mann, a pioneer in developing and manufacturing such medical devices as heart pacemakers and hearing implants.

Although the amount of space occupied by biomedical firms in Valencia is relatively small--about 500,000 square feet, broker Jim Linn of Grubb & Ellis said he expects that figure to grow because the area's labor force, available land and quality of life appeal to that industry.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see biomed grow faster than standard office in the next four or five years" in Valencia, Linn said.

Although Valencia may be best known as a residential neighborhood and the home of Magic Mountain theme park, spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer of Newhall Land said that the community has a fast-growing industrial base and has attracted a number of office tenants that have corporate headquarters there, including Princess Cruises and U.S. Borax.

Office space in Valencia is about 1.5 million square feet and industrial space about 18 million square feet, according to Lauffer, who said Newhall Land is "very focused on developing the biomed cluster," where Specialty Labs will locate.

Neither Specialty nor Newhall Land disclosed the purchase price of the company's 13.8 acres, but sources familiar with the deal said Specialty paid about $8 million for the land. Publicly held Specialty did not disclose construction costs for its new headquarters.

In the other major real estate deal announced by Newhall and reported in The Times last week, the nonprofit Packard Humanities Institute of Los Altos bought 60 acres at McBean Parkway and Rockwell Canyon Road that is the proposed new site of the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

Neither party disclosed the purchase price, but industry sources said the institute paid about $12.5 million for the land.

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