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Farmers Market Adds a Film Industry Tenant

Ant Farm, a production company, has signed the site's first office lease. It will take 30,000 square feet on Fairfax Avenue.

September 15, 2003|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

A Hollywood entertainment production company has leased 30,000 square feet at the Farmers Market, the first office lease in the 69-year history of the Los Angeles landmark, which has been home to such diverse enterprises as auto racing, professional baseball and a drive-in theater.

Ant Farm, which makes movie trailers that screen in theaters, will take half the 60,000 square feet of office space in a 90,000-square-foot mixed-use building owned by A.F. Gilmore Co., a family real estate enterprise run by descendants of the property's original owner. The 11-year lease is valued at about $11 million.

Tenants in the building, at 110 S. Fairfax Ave., include Gilmore Bank and Organized Living, a Lenexa, Kan.-based retailer that sells shelving, racks and containers.

In addition to serving motion picture companies, Ant Farm produces previews for TV programs and video games. The company's 115 employees are scheduled to move to Farmers Market in mid-December from two Hollywood office buildings.

"Since it opened in 1934, the Farmers Market has always had writers, entertainers and producers mixing in with our tourists and local shoppers," said Hank Hilty, president of A.F. Gilmore. "It just seems natural to have an entertainment company as an addition to the market family."

The latest improvements began in 1998, when A.F. Gilmore Co. and Caruso Affiliated Holdings announced plans to build the Grove at Farmers Market. The 640,000-square-foot open-air shopping center, along with four new Farmers Market buildings and a new plaza housing the restored Farmers Market clock tower, opened last year.

Office vacancy rates in the competing markets of Hollywood, Sunset Strip and Wilshire Boulevard range from 15% to 20%, said CB Richard Ellis real estate broker Rob Waller, who represented the landlord in the deal. He said he was negotiating with several entertainment industry tenants for the remaining space in North Market.

The former Gilmore Bank building, constructed in 1955, was razed to make way for the Grove, and the one-office community bank operated from temporary quarters nearby until the North Market addition was completed in December.

The office building represents a new use of the property, which began as a dairy farm and then became an oil company and later was home to enterprises such as a football stadium and a self-serve gas station.

The Farmers Market opened as a side attraction in the parking lot of Gilmore Stadium in 1934. The stadium, drive-in and other enterprises are long gone, but the market remains one of the region's top attractions, drawing about 3 million visitors a year.

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