Is The RedBuilding Jeff Lasky's Moby Dick?
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Just six months ago, PDC's RedBuilding in WeHo was struggling, with little activity and a poor perception among tenant brokers in the market. Today it remains less than 20% leased, but it's finally signing tenants. We sat down with Jeff Lasky, the man who's working to turn the project around.
Jeff, an SVP with Charles Cohen's Cohen Brothers Realty, came aboard in 2013, after Charles and SVP Marc Horowitz spent some time courting him. At the time, Jeff was with CBRE as part of team handling major institutional assets on the Westside. It wasn't an easy sell to leave that, but Jeff says he saw the enormous potential with the RedBuilding, and left one of the best landlord gigs in the city. "Large office deals are complicated enough and brokers and their clients want landlords who meet the market and provide a fair and efficient transaction process," he tells us. According to brokers, this was not the perception of Cohen Brothers in LA over the last few years, causing many tenant brokers to be hesitant about presenting the project as a real "opportunity for tenants."
Jeff says Charles is a unique landlord, focused on the long-term, not short-term returns. And so Jeff went to work with the goal of changing the market perception and leasing what is undoubtedly one of the most aesthetically interesting, high-quality office buildings in LA. The 400k SF, Cesar Pelli-designed project has been more than 30 years in the making. After Charles worked with four different third-party brokers who were unable to get tenants to sign any leases, Jeff leveraged a career worth of contacts to get brokers and tenants to come take a serious look at the Pacific Design Center's RedBuilding. And as you know, it finally paid off.
The new tenants include Whalerock Industries, a media/tech company owned by entertainment exec Lloyd Braun, which is relocating from Santa Monica; Gaumont International Television, part of European-based studio Gaumont; the US HQ of global clothing retailer AllSaints, which is moving from New York; and Criteria Corp, a provider of web-based pre-employment testing services. Charles told us last week "committing to a lease in the RedBuilding is not only an investment by us, it’s also an investment by the tenants, too." He says starting rents are $4.50/SF and up, net of energy costs.
Broker tenants say Jeff has made a huge difference, shifting the perception and closing deals. Savills Studley corporate managing director Michael Shuken, who repped Criteria Corp, says the real estate speaks for itself, but Jeff gave him and the rest of the brokerage community "the trust and confidence to present the opportunity" to clients. Jeff tells us the building has about 65k SF leased, and he's in talks with several other tenants interested in a good portion of the remaining space.