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The Next Playa Vista?

With the Google earthquake in Playa Vista last week, everyone's asking--what's next? Is that the new tech epicenter, so that adjacent areas will soon be booming like Google's purchase of 111 Eighth Ave. in Manhattan changed Meatpacking and Chelsea? Or SalesForce Tower in SF's SoMa moved gravitational forces from Market Street to Mission? Or Amazon exploded South Lake Union in Seattle? It's this huge question we take up at Bisnow's Future of El Segundo this Thursday at "elevon" at Campus El Segundo (800 Parkview Drive North), starting at 8am. (Sign up here.)

You can't discuss El Segundo without talking about Continental Development. One of our panelists, SVP Alex Rose (shown just after sinking a birdie on the 14th hole at Mauna Lani North on the Big Island of Hawaii last month), tells us the company has been based in El Segundo and developed property in the city for nearly 50 years. Back then, the city was known for aerospace and defense, and Continental grew up developing facilities for those industries. Alex tells us the company's excited to be a part of the city's next evolution, as users across the economic spectrum increasingly see El Segundo as a vibrant community boasting all the amenities that come with a coastal location, in addition to tremendous infrastructure and easy accessibility

Much of the company's energy is focused on our event venue: the 210k SF, $100M elevon at Campus El Segundo. The project brings rare for-sale product to the creative office market. All 15 of the office buildings are now up, and the plan is to deliver them to buyers starting in Q1. (The project also includes two retail buildings.) Alex says once the roofs were put on top, buyers were able to go up to the second floor and see the views. He says activity picked up significantly--about 35% of the space is either in escrow or LOI. Maybe the real estate org should be in the matchmaking business--that's how Alex met his wife, Moran & Co president Mary Ann King.

This spring, Mar Ventures relocated from Torrance to El Segundo, where the company is partnered with Continental on the elevon project. President Allan Mackenzie, who will deliver our event's opening remarks, tells us Mar has several projects in the works in El Segundo and views the City as an economically dynamic environment. Besides elevon, Mar's finalizing the specific plan for Raytheon's El Segundo campus, and is in the early planning stages on the second phase of Plaza El Segundo, another JV with Continental. The 25-acre brownfield site, located between Continental Park and The Point retail development, is anticipated to contain retail, hotel, and possibly some office. Allan notes it's a complicated project requiring significant public infrastructure work, including the relocation of railroad tracks and pipelines. 

Another of our panelists, NSB Associates CEO Larry Field, has completed the first two phases of the company's 18-acre, $50M Utah Avenue Campus project. Phase I converted two industrial buildings into 61k SF of creative office space. Time Warner Cable leased both buildings before they came on the market to house its sports TV network. Phase 2 includes two buildings totaling nearly 196k SF, and several tenants are in advanced negotiations. Larry's not done there--planning's under way for Phase 3, which will add about 80k SF, with completion expected in 2016, and a fourth phase will bring an additional 125k SF to the Campus. JLL is handling the marketing for the Utah Avenue Campus.

NSB cut large windows into the  buildings' concrete walls, punched skylights through the 17-foot-high ceilings to flood the interiors with natural light, and redesigned the facades with colorful supergraphics. After successfully building creative offices in Venice, Santa Monica, Culver City and Playa Vista, the company entered El Segundo almost a decade ago, converting a 40k SF industrial building to creative office space. The company was attracted to El Segundo by a number of factors, not the least of which are its casual vibe that appeals to today’s tech, media and creative companies and their employees, and an efficient, business-friendly city government. Through the Jewish Federation, Larry mentors young people interested in real estate careers, meeting individually with six or eight each month. His advice? "I tell them what they need is drive and hard work, not a lot of money." (That comes later.)

Real estate development isn't much like being a kid in a candy store, but sometimes it can come mighty close. Federal Realty Investment Trust VP Jeff Kreshek frequently taps his three kids to test new retail concepts. Recently, he took them on a trip to check out candy stores, and they got to vote on which one they thought was right for The Point, Federal's lifestyle retail project at the key intersection of Rosecrans Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard. Jeff says this will be the South Bay's first real lifestyle destination (and he can say this, as a South Bay native). Tenants are being selected to provide the social aspect of dining and the experiential aspect of shopping (modeled a bit on Federal Realty's Santana Row), creating that sense of place, he says.

Slated to open next summer, The Point recently announced its first group of tenants, some of them first-to-market concepts. The lineup includes fashion retailers Athleta, Lucky Brand and No Rest For Bridget and fitness studio SoulCycle. Federal attracted some trendy eateries as well, such as Mendocino Farms, Superba Food & Bread, True Food Kitchen and North Italia--both from boutique restaurant group Fox Restaurant Concepts,  and the Chipotle-developed ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen.

Another of our panelists, El Segundo city manager Greg Carpenter (flanked by planning and building safety director Sam Lee and economic development analyst Ted Shove at our creative office summit this year), points to his city's unprecedented level of construction activity, both remodels and new construction. Developers are repositioning older office space to attract creative office tenants--similar to what's happening with old light industrial buildings in Smoky Hollow--for tenants who want that edgier creative office feel. Greg, who previously served as El Segundo's planning and building director, says the city's local economy is diversifying

Greg tells us five hotels are either under construction or planned, and the Lakers HQ is being planned at elevon.The city's been successful in keeping its Downtown vibrant as new restaurants move in. One sign of success: parking problems in Downtown; the city's trying to leverage street parking, and experimenting with angled parking to squeeze in more cars. Greg was born and raised in El Segundo, lives two blocks from City Hall and walks to work. But when he does leave El Segundo, he likes to spend time up in Paso Robles. To hear more, please join us Thursday for our Bisnow's Future of El Segundo event at elevon at Campus El Segundo (800 Parkview Drive North), starting at 8am. (Sign up here.)