Elizabeth Kubasak of Ratkovich Co. walks through the former office of Howard… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )
After decades of silence and neglect, the renovated former office of aviation mogul Howard Hughes in Playa Vista will finally have a new occupant — design and advertising agency 72andSunny.
The company has agreed to rent 58,000 square feet in two buildings that were once part of Hughes Aircraft Co. headquarters. The space includes the "Mahogany Row" offices that were home to top executives, including the brilliant but mercurial inventor and airman.
Who will get the corner suite that Hughes himself once occupied?
"We decided that ghost was too good to be kept to any one person alone," said John Boiler, chief executive of 72andSunny.
Mahogany Row will be restored to its original specifications and used for conference rooms and other common areas open to employees and visitors, he said. Most of the two-story steel structure built in 1950 will be converted into open-space offices intended to enhance collaboration.
The move is an expansion for 72andSunny, which now occupies about 30,000 square feet in Westchester, Boiler said. The company will grow to as many as 300 employees from its current 250.
72andSunny will also occupy part of another structure built of wood during World War II when metal was in short supply. It housed engineers working on Hughes’ famous massive seaplane named Hercules, better known as the Spruce Goose. The ad agency will build a two-story-tall theater inside.
Los Angeles landlord Ratkovich Co. expects to spend as much as $90 million on buying, restoring and improving the old Hughes property it calls the Hercules Campus. Many of its 11 historic buildings have seen little use since the 1980s, although the enormous hangar where the Spruce Goose was assembled has served as a popular sound stage for film and television production.
Financial terms of 72andSunny’s 12-year lease were not disclosed, but Ratkovich Co. President Wayne Ratkovich said earlier this year that he was asking for as much as $3 per square foot per month in rent. Internet video site YouTube and marketing agency Earthbound Media Group have also agreed to set up offices on the Hercules Campus.
72andSunny plans to move next March, Boiler said.
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