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NoHo West Project Highlights The Valley Renaissance

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Unlike its more famous neighbor, North Hollywood has always been seen as a gritty, working-class area. 

A combination of old housing stock, dilapidated streets and worn out buildings, some areas of North Hollywood have made it a popular place for television shows and movies looking to showcase a rough urban neighborhood, sometimes standing in for Chicago or Baltimore.

 Merlone Geier Partners' NoHo West development
Rendering of Merlone Geier Partners' NoHo West project in North Hollywood

Sons of Anarchy, Shameless and Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time In Hollywood have filmed in certain parts of North Hollywood to show an edgy milieu.

But things are changing for North Hollywood, dubbed NoHo.

Merlone Geier’s 570K SF NoHo West mixed-use retail and office megaproject is an enhancement to the neighborhood and North Hollywood’s image. Trammell Crow Residential has also been brought in to build a 642-unit residential component right next door to the site.

"This is a game changer and is going to put this area on the map," JLL Managing Director Patrick Church said. 

The NoHo West development highlights the growth of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley suburb, mostly better known as the Valley. The Valley is made up of about 34 neighborhoods from Burbank in the east, Woodland Hills west to Sylmar and Granada Hills in the north.

In the past few years, several developments have either opened, are under construction or are in various stages of planning across the Valley.

In Woodland Hills, Los Angeles planning officials approved Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield's $1.5B Promenade 2035, a mixed-use megadevelopment with 1,400 residential units, 630K SF of office space, two hotels, and an entertainment and sports arena. 

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s Larry Green will discuss The Promenade and other developments happening at the Warner Center at Bisnow’s State of the Valley & Tri-Cities event Oct. 23 at the Burbank Empire Center at 2300 West Empire Ave. in Burbank.

In Studio City, Midwood Investment & Development is pouring $100M into redeveloping the Sportsmen’s Lodge, a historic landmark along Ventura Boulevard. The Gensler-designed development, The Shops at Sportsmen’s Lodge, will encompass 94K SF of retail space with outdoor communal space and 450 parking spots.

JLL's Patrick Church tours a Bisnow reporter at the construction of Merlone Geier's NoHo West project in North Hollywood
JLL's Patrick Church gives a Bisnow reporter a tour of the construction of Merlone Geier's NoHo West project in North Hollywood.

In Burbank, a JV of Crown Realty and Development and Arrow Retail are proposing to invest $400M to convert an old IKEA into a mixed-use residential, retail and office project. Earlier this year, Warner Bros. announced it would expand its Burbank headquarters and build two new office buildings totaling 800K SF

In a different part of North Hollywood, Trammell Crow and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority have teamed up to develop a 15-acre city-owned site called the District NoHo.

The project, which is still in the very early planning stages, could include as many as 1,600 affordable and market-rate residential units, 150K SF of retail, 400K SF of office space and 1,000 parking spaces. The team is currently reaching out to the community for input. 

More developments are being built or planned elsewhere across the Valley.

In North Hollywood, there is already a lot of excitement surrounding the NoHo West project on Oxnard Street, according to JLL's Church, who is handling the office leasing for Merlone Geier.

"You don't know how many residents have called us excited about this project to open and what it's going to do to home values," Church said. "This is a vital project for the area."

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who represents the North Hollywood area, said the development will "revitalize one of the East San Fernando Valley’s most important commercial corridors," according to the LA Daily News.

The 25-acre mixed-use development replaces a former struggling shopping center. The retail component of NoHo West is expected to open in spring of 2020. The office building is slated to open in May 2020.

Twenty stores have already signed leases to occupy retail space in the development, including Starbucks, It's Boba Time, Regal Cinemas and 24 Hour Fitness, according to the NoHo West website.

Trader Joe's has reportedly also signed a lease for 16K SF, according to The Real Deal

Merlone Geier's NoHo West project in North Hollywood
Construction is in full swing at Merlone Geier's NoHo West project in North Hollywood.

The 235K SF office component will rise four floors with a mezzanine. 

Church said construction is in full swing and that the retailers are beginning to make interior improvements to their space. He said he has spoken with companies as possible tenants for the office component. 

One of the biggest reasons why North Hollywood is experiencing such tremendous growth is that it is still less expensive — in terms of the price of an office lease and residential home prices — than parts of Los Angeles, Hollywood and Burbank, Church said.

The average home in North Hollywood in August sold for $655K, according to ReportsOnHousing, a residential data site. That is far less than Burbank, which averaged $872K; Chatsworth at $729K; and Woodland Hills at $913K.

On the office side, big companies like Netflix are leasing up large blocks of office space in buildings, where North Hollywood is seen as a bargain.

"There are a lot of significant demand drivers across the LA corridor," Church said. "Where there is a lack of opportunity in Hollywood and Burbank, we're seeing entertainment companies looking outside of those areas."

Patrick Barnett, a 78-year-old former journalist who grew up in the Valley, welcomed the NoHo West development and other projects across his hometown.

He remembers when the Valley was just a collection of family-owned retail stores along Ventura Boulevard and the main business center was in Van Nuys. That has obviously changed, he said. 

"The Valley is all grown up," Barnett said. "There’s a lot of economic drivers out there."

Bisnow’s State of the Valley & Tri-Cities event will be held Oct. 23 at the Burbank Empire Center at 2300 West Empire Ave. in Burbank.