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The Amazing Jerry Snyder

Los Angeles

For decades, Jerry Snyder has been one of LA's most accomplished developers, but after sitting down with him this week, we got a whole new appreciation.

We snapped Jerry at his desk on the penthouse floor of Museum Square on Miracle Mile. (He notes that it was his first significant commercial project, after buying it from Pru in '78, before which he was a homebuilder and subdivision guy.) His company, JH Snyder, has $600M of work in progress, including an adjacent 254k SF office building, and recently-launched construction on 959 Seward in Hollywood, a creative office project totaling 245k SF on four acres

Ware Malcomb designed the latter, which features state-of-the-art glass buildings and leasing by JLL's Patrick Church and Anneke Greco. The Multi-Employer Property Trust advised by Bentall Kennedy is providing a $95M participating loan. It's not every day that you find four acres in Hollywood; Jerry notes it enables the firm to do a campus development instead of a high-rise. He had the site entitled six years ago and "kept it in storage while the recession was going on." On Tuesday, he met with a prospective 180k SF tenant.

As for the 13-story new office building (bottom left corner) at Museum Square, construction won't start until it's substantially pre-leased, which may be soon—he's negotiating with two tenants, each of whom wants the entire building. While Jerde did the original planning, the tenant will have its own architect redesign the structure, subject to Jerry's approval. It's unusual, but these are specialty tenants. "Their interiors are really controlled by the tenant, and the architect has to understand the particular business they’re in."

Here's the approximate site of the new building, which will be adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits. The existing 540k SF Museum Square building is fully leased to entertainment tenants like SAG-AFTRA and publishing companies such as Scripps. In just a few months, Jerry plans to begin construction on a Gensler-designed, 107k SF building at 1601 Vine, one block from the iconic corner of Hollywood and Vine. Last week, he received state approval for the project, necessary because it was a re-development job. And his 464-unit The Vermont apartment project at Wilshire and Vermont is nearing completion with an opening set for next month.

Here's Jerry pointing to photos of his daughter Wendy's wedding in Japan. Jerry is known for seeking neighborhood consensus before building a project. "I'd rather do that at the beginning than have anyone screaming at a City Council meeting because they don’t know what’s going on." Case in point: The firm worked with neighbors on the Wilshire Courtyard (now owned by Tishman Speyer) and ended up designing with them a park in back. Jerry has three children and three grandchildren, plus a Japanese son-in-law and Chinese-American daughter-in-law. Son Lon is a partner in the business. Wendy is a professor of linguistics who teaches Japanese at Cal State Northridge. His other son, William, is retired and lives in Copenhagen. And one other exotic fact: Every August he and wife Joan go to their place on Flathead Lake in Montana. Take us!