Tuesday, September 17, 2013

As Santa Monica Prices Itself Out of Running, "Lower Westside" Blooms

New entertainment mall, the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center
The west side of LA has emerged as the tech and startup capital of Los Angeles, with Santa Monica as its real estate "ground zero". Dozens of new companies have started and blossomed in the cool coastal plain west of the traffic and pollution of downtown. But now that Santa Monica real estate prices have zoomed, these same tech companies and their employees are colonizing the areas just South, around Playa Vista, Playa del Rey and Westchester. Welcome to the new real estate frontiers of the "Lower Westside", where home developments and shopping centers focused on dining and entertainment lure a young generation of the educated and well-heeled.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "In an area that Los Angeles real estate brokers have dubbed "the lower Westside," the rush is on to fill in the once-sparsely developed land north of LAX and southeast of Marina del Rey with new residences, retail outlets and creative businesses.

Big-name media and technology companies are accelerating their push in the Playa Vista neighborhood. And a large mall in nearby Westchester is converting to an all-entertainment format in hopes of appealing to the newcomers' youth and wealth.

The Promenade at Howard Hughes Center, a prominent mall next to the 405 Freeway, will replace stores with restaurants, arcades and other venues that favor recreation over commerce, its owners said. The mall already has a luxury theater complex.

The economic downturn took a toll on the center, however, forcing the closure of a Borders bookstore and Calendar Grill. Another major tenant, Nordstrom Rack, is moving to rival mall Westfield Culver City.

The departures 'gave us the opportunity to reposition the property,' said Howard Wong, director of leasing for owner Passco Cos. 'We want to take advantage of what's happening in the market.'

What's happening is an influx of young-skewing firms such as YouTube, Microsoft and Fox Sports Interactive Media to Playa Vista. Video game firms GameFly and Riot Games are in offices by the mall.

The lower Westside is attracting such tenants with cheaper, more abundant office space than can be found in trendy tech-centric Santa Monica, brokers say.

With shopping on the way out at the Promenade, Passco will bring in entertainment-oriented restaurants Dave & Buster's and Buffalo Wild Wings. Dave & Buster's locations typically offer billiards, shuffleboard and arcade games while Buffalo Wild Wings sells food in a sports bar setting. Both restaurants are slated to open late this year.

Passco may also bring in an upscale bowling alley operator and nighttime entertainment such as a comedy club or piano bar. Adding more entertainment could also increase the mall's appeal to out-of-town visitors, Wong said."

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