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What's Up in the Valley?
June 6, 2013

What's Up In The Valley?

It's not too late to register for our first Future of the Valley Summit, Thursday June 13 at the Sportsmen's Lodge Events Center in Studio City (sign up here). We've put together an all-star panel to examine key trends in the San Fernando and Conejo valleys. But first, a quick chat with one of our speakers, Douglas Emmett regional manager of leasing David Hitzel.

Here's David with daughter Julia, son Griffin, and wife Helen at the CIF Northern Division Championship Football game in December. Over the past nine months, David has seen a dramatic increase in activity in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where the REIT owns 11 projects (including the iconic, like, totally tripendicular Sherman Oaks Galleria). While the market still has an abundance of professional services firms, the main drivers behind the increase are tech and media related companies (helped by easy access to the Westside via the 405 and 101). Woodland Hills, where Douglas Emmett owns projects like Warner Center Towers and The Trillium, is also seeing more activity.
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Plans For Hotel By The Pier

The Jerde Partnership has unveiled its preliminary design for a hotel development in Santa Monica to replace the Wyndham Hotel at 120 Colorado Ave—which itself was a former Holiday Inn. (Why change the sheets when you can change the hotel?) Dubbed "Hotel by the Pier," the FelCor Lodging Trust property will consist of a 211-key hotel and 25 residential units at Ocean and Colorado avenues and Main Street. The project's lead principal is Jerde design director David Rogers (who also served as lead designer for the redevelopment of Santa Place Place).

The hotel will serve as a new gateway to the southern end of Santa Monica's revitalizing downtown. The three buildings will be terraced, stepping upward west to east from five stories, then eight stories, and finally 15 stories. (Whatever happened to beanstalks to reach the clouds? Lazy Millennials.) Each building will boast viewing decks looking out over the coast, LA Basin, and Santa Monica Mountains; and the middle building will be topped with a bar and lounge.

Last Night In Bel Air

The Bel Air Bar & Grill on Sepulveda at Moraga is back, and therefore so are Allen Matkins senior partner Tony Natsis and wife Demetra, whom we snapped last night outside. The 144-seat neighborhood institution, opened in 1999 (although other restaurants have stood there since the '50s), was closed for major renovation over 18 months until last November. Tony and Demetra calculate they've been coming about once a month to the spot for the 22 years they've lived in Bel Air.

The owner remains Susan Disney Lord, Roy Disney's niece, so maybe that accounts for the magical décor—this is a full wall of glass at the entry. Tony has been doing so many real estate deals in red hot San Francisco lately, we expect even these cool new digs seemed appealingly down-home.

Western U Turns Dirt on Grad Housing

A PPP between Hanover Pacific, Western University of Health Sciences, and the City of Pomona broke ground on a 173k SF mixed-use grad student housing complex containing 306 beds and 10k SF of faculty office space. It's on 3.6 acres adjacent to the private nonprofit campus, where land for new housing is in short supply. According to KTGY principal David Senden, the complex won't have a rec center—grad students seldom use 'em. Instead, a hotel-style lobby functioning like a coffee shop will allow them to study by themselves in a public environment, alleviating "the sense of isolation that is typical in rigorous graduate programs." (Reached for comment, a grad student said "Who are you? How did you find me? Will you be my friend?")

Of all the things I've lost, I think I miss my mind the most. If found, please return to julie@bisnow.com.

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