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Is Culver City the Next Big Tech/Media Mecca?

With Santa Monica virtually out of space and Playa Vista filling up fast, developers and brokers are eying Culver City as the next big place to pop for tech and creative users. So we're excited to be holding Bisnow's first-ever afternoon program: The Future of Culver City: LA's Next Big Submarket? Oct. 14 at Eastham Station in Culver City, starting at 5pm

Our panelists will include Hackman Capital Partners CEO Michael Hackman, one of the investors and developers giving Culver City's old industrial buildings new life as creative space. Michael tells us firms are using the design elements of creative office space not only to stoke internal efficiencies and collaborations, but also as a recruiting tool for a Millennial workforce that doesn’t see itself in traditional office space. And it’s not just about opening up ceilings—parking is as crucial as architectural interest.

Case in point: Beats Electronics relocated its HQ from Santa Monica to 100k SF in HCP's WorkScapes at the Hayden Tract in March, and a five-story parking garage was a big inducement. “We were able to land a super high-quality tenant because we had the parking,” Michael says.

Earlier this year, HCP affiliates bought The Culver Studios (9336 W Washington Blvd) from Lehman Bros, maintaining the historic property as an operating studio that caters to 21st Century creative needs such as converting stages for digital use. “We’re trying to find out how to evolve the spaces to meet the demand,” Michael says. The 14-acre studio has seen increased business from TV, cable and Internet shows, with the added advantage being close by tech and new media companies. Series filmed here include Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, The Last Ship, and Chelsea Handler’s new talk show on Netflix.

Among our speakers will be PMI Properties partner Jeffrey Elliot Palmer, whose Eastham Station is hosting the event. He tells us the cultural value of the City’s architectural stock with its dramatic spaces appeals to developers of creative office space. The key is retooling buildings for contemporary use while exposing their natural beauty. Jeffrey grew up in what he calls the “widerhood” of the Westside. When he’s not studying the evolution of cityscapes, he enjoys hobbies that are quintessentially SoCal—jazz, movies, working out, and yoga.

DTZ EVP Brad Gross, also a panelist, is national director of the firm's media and technology practice (and an avid surfer) and tells us he sees the Culver City submarket of Corporate Pointe making some waves. Proximity to Playa Vista and Westfield Culver City Mall is propelling the sub-submarket from third-tier to the forefront of Culver City. He notes the city's rapidly becoming a premier destination for local companies as well as name-brand companies opening West Coast offices.

Brad says a big push is coming from first- and second-stage media and tech companies. Much of the activity is 5,000 SF and under among smaller venture-backed firms that have been priced out of Silicon Beach. Culver City rates are 20% to 30% less expensive than other premier West LA markets, he says. DTZ’s Culver City clients include Sony Pictures, healthcare and tech firm NantWorks, and independent ad agency Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener. Here, Brad shows how he reels them in.

Brad, wife Wendy, and kids Jared and Lindsay (14 and 11) have a taste for action-packed vacations. “We’re pretty adventurous, so we don’t do mundane tours.” This summer saw them in Alaska, where the itinerary included river rafting in Juneau, fly-fishing on Chichagof Island, and zip-lining in Tongass National Forest in Ketchikan.

Also on the panel: Lowe Enterprises SVP Thomas Wulf, who sees Culver City’s appeal as three-fold: accessibility, business-friendly amenities like its revitalized downtown, and opportunities in new-generation office space. Demand is driven by tenant and occupant desires for open office spaces that foster collaboration (cubicles are so passé). That sentiment's at the heart of Lowe’s mixed-use urban infill project adjacent to the Metro Expo Line Station. One of the last private-public partnerships after the state eliminated RDAs, it got the green light to move on to the entitlement process. Five acres of city-owned properties—bought for $24M—will become residential, office, retail, and hotel properties, plus 300 parking stalls for the Metro line.

If you want to know how much Culver City has changed, just ask one of its native sons: Councilman Andrew Weissman (with wife Doneil), who'll deliver the opening remarks at our event. Andrew's lived here his whole life. In 1952, he joined father Alvin’s law practice Arkin & Weissman on Culver Boulevard, and for nearly 30 years played active roles in several city commissions and government. He describes the City's early days as a manufacturing and industrial hub to its present-day incarnation as one of the region’s economic engines.

According to Andrew, the city’s long-range planning is responsible for a modernized infrastructure (and public transit system) that’s drawn media and tech heavyweights like the aforementioned Beats by Dre and Sony, plus NPR West and the NFL Network. Culver City is also home to the newest generation of Weissmans: grandkids Jacob, Luke, Cambria, and Ava. Now Andrew says there’s a new challenge: not enough parking. With demand way higher than supply, the city has had to find innovative solutions like expanding offsite parking. The Future of Culver City will take place Oct. 14—refreshments and networking begin at 5pm; more networking and cocktails from 6:20 to 7:30pm. And here's another chance to sign up now!