by Jodi Summers
Silicon Beach with a view…that’s what they call Playa Vista. It used to be that the incorporated city of Santa Monica was the gem in the crown – great location, better services, name recognition…rents about $4/sf, but since the rise of Silicon Beach, such is not the case. Culver City is now on par with Santa Monica ($4/sf). Venice is entirely out of control with lease rates beyond $5/sf, bolstered in part by angel investors.
Playa Vista started out as a budget-friendly alternative to the Santa Monica market, but no more. State of the art, Playa Vista is highly desirable —and it is still growing. As Google moves into the Hercules campus where Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose flying ship was built, demand in the Playa Vista market continues to grow for tenants in all size ranges. From titans like Microsoft, Verizon, TOMS, Google, Yahoo and YouTube Space LA to creative powerhouses like 72andSunny and USC’s Institute of Creative Technologies, Playa Vista has become the Westside address of choice.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti heavily wooed Yahoo to move its Santa Monica operations to Playa Vista. He has been aggressively pushing for the city to become a tech-entertainment powerhouse and has been enticing companies over the Santa Monica border with attractive perks.
The plan to lure Yahoo began last year, when word got out that Yahoo was willing to leave Santa Monica in favor of a bigger office complex. Mayo Garcetti sent a letter to Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer offering a “menu of incentives and resources,” including a three-year business tax exemption and “white glove service” to ensure that the build-out of the campus would proceed quickly and that the company’s dealings with the city would be fast-tracked.
“The consolidation of your employees into one singular campus in the city would help elevate L.A. as [a] tech leader, ensuring that we’re able to retain quality engineers and attract and grow local funding sources,” Garcetti wrote, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Personally, I view this move as paramount to our continued success.”
Yahoo signed a long-term lease for about 130,000 square feet at the Collective Campus in Playa Vista. The move will bring at least 400 jobs from Yahoo’s current location, with space to accommodate growth.
Internet companies generally set aside 200 square feet per employee, so Yahoo’s Playa Vista presence could expand to 650 employees.
“L.A. city will get its fair share,” confirms Mayor Garcetti. “That absolutely is important to me.”
It’s working. The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. recently released a report showing that the area has more high-tech jobs (368,600) than Boston-Cambridge, Santa Clara County and New York City. The direct high-tech workforce generated $32 billion in wages in 2013, accounting for 16.8% of all wages paid in L.A. County, the report said.
Today’s vision of Playa Vista would touch the spirit of former landowner Howard Hughes, and his concept for the neighborhood. Hughes transformed this area into a breeding ground for aeronautic innovation and today that innovation is in technology, media and other creative fields. Today it really is a utopian campus designed to inspire. Spotted between the buildings, innovative rejuvenation offers a variety of amenities to appeal to the senses, including berm gardens, water features, walking paths, soccer, sand volleyball, basketball court, a kids’ playground and iconic bandshell for outdoor concerts, movies and other events. And for more out of doors, the adjacent parkland adds breathing room and a campus-like atmosphere to this vibrant creative office destination.