Work has begun on the first phase of a $1.2-billion office complex in the Playa Vista development south of Marina del Rey as the popular Westside office market remains strong in the face of the nation's faltering economy.
A major tenant for the complex, Belkin International Inc., was announced Thursday by the developers, Tishman Speyer and Walton Street Capital. When completed at the end of next year, the new buildings will be headquarters for technology company Belkin.
Belkin will occupy 150,000 square feet, almost half of the space in the four-building first phase of the office campus, after it consolidates other Los Angeles-area offices.
The price of the lease was not disclosed, but a real estate expert who knows about the deal but asked not to be identified because negotiations were confidential valued it at more than $100 million.
The new development is rising on a 64-acre site that includes two enormous hangars and offices where mogul Howard Hughes built his famous Spruce Goose airplane in the 1940s and ran his aviation empire, which included an airfield, for decades. Those buildings have been designated as landmarks and must be preserved.
Tishman Speyer plans to renovate the former Hughes buildings when it finds tenants for them, said John Miller, senior managing director of the New York-based developer and landlord. In the meantime, the company leases the Spruce Goose hangars to movie and television productions. "Transformers" and its unreleased sequel were both filmed there, Miller said.
The developers hope to attract more high-tech and entertainment-industry tenants to the site where -- long after Hughes' company left the scene -- the owners of DreamWorks SKG once planned to build a studio before the deal collapsed in the 1990s.
The office complex designed by Gensler is expected to have more than 1.6 million square feet of new environmentally friendly office space plus an additional 500,000 square feet of renovated space in the former Hughes buildings. To woo its target tenants, the developers plan landscaped gardens, athletic courts and fields, a skateboarding park, a band shell and water features.