Culver City Evolves from Quiet Community to Urban Area; Gains a ‘Media for the Web’ Cluster

Maker Studios, a company that produces media content for the web, just signed a 50,000 square foot lease at 3562 Eastham Drive in Culver City.  Maker Studios joins other recent media-for-the web content companies in the Hayden Tract.  Several companies include Four Wall Studios, Mahalo, and Popsugar.  The cluster of these firms gives rise to a small community that could encourage other firms in this emerging industry to also seek office space in Culver City.

The success of these firms would also help create a new source of demand for Culver City creative space.  These media-for-the web firms join other creative office companies in Culver City that include digital advertising, entertainment, old media, and software firms.  A recent article from the Los Angeles Times discusses the success of Culver City and its challenges.  The addition of 1100 parking spaces at the Washington and La Cienega Expo stations helped convince these firms to locate in Culver City.  As some tech companies scale to 10 employees per 1000 square feet, the Expo line may provide one of the few ways for firms to help provide an alternative to parking to accommodate such density.

Culver City has transformed into one of main areas on the Westside that many tech and media tenants have been drawn to for creative office space.  In the second quarter of 2012, Culver City  had a net absorption of 16,000 square feet, with the asking rates for Class A and Class B space remaining constant from the first and second quarters of 2012.

Media Company Sugar Publishing, Inc. Leases 15,300 Square Feet in Culver City

Sugar Publishing, Inc., a privately owned media company that produces a network of blogs and ecommerce sites for women, leased 15,300 square feet at 3525 Eastham Avenue in Culver City’s Hayden Tract this month.  Sugar follows Mahalo Inc., another digital media company, who leased 13,300 square feet in November at the same property and also left Santa Monica in search of more affordable creative offices.

Culver City has become one of the best Westside alternatives to Santa Monica for creative space at significantly lower rents.  The area is now a hotbed for entertainment and media companies due to its prime location on the Westside, its new restaurant and art scene, and its plentiful supply of converted warehouses. With 3525 Eastham being positioned well in the Hayden Tract, PMI designed the building with creative companies in mind.  According to Jeffrey Palmer of PMI, “PMI originally designed 3525 Eastham for software and web based companies that need high density while maintaining a creative environment; although the design works very well for entertainment companies as well.”  The 24 foot soaring bow-truss ceiling, multiple oversized glass roll-up doors and numerous skylights help create a sense of spaciousness even with very high employee counts.  The City of Culver City is very interested in attracting digital media firms to the area.  It recently committed to purchase 180 parking space privileges in a parking structure to be built by a local developer.  Culver City has invested in parking and transportation infrastructure (including new redevelopments at the nearby Expo light rail station at Washington and National) to help entice these new digital technology companies to Culver City.  In addition, a new Hayden Tract Owners Association has formed to build 120 additional parking spaces on a former Cal Tran easement and to promote other improvements to the Hayden Tract.

Sugar Publishing has expanded from their San Francisco & New York locations to begin their tenure in Los Angeles.  Sugar prides itself in providing their 20 million global unique users insanely addictive content, unmatched shopping experiences and a robust social community.  The company has two business segments focusing on original content and commerce with a portfolio of brands including PopSugar, FabSugar, BellaSugar, FitSugar, GeekSugar, PetSugar, and PopSugar Retail Therapy.  Cementing their spot as a media force to be reckoned with, in May 2010, Sugar was named among the Hottest Companies in San Francisco. Sugar’s employees are extremely passionate about the brand, which shows in the amount and quality of content they produce on their numerous sites.

Brian Sugar currently serves as the company’s CEO and Publisher, while Lisa Sugar is the company’s Editor-in-Chief.  According to their website, the story behind the creation of Sugar, Inc. came from a comment at Oscars party Brian and Lisa Sugar threw at their home in February of 2005.  In 2006, they received Series A Funding from Sequoia Capital and have been expanding ever since.

During the pre-leasing process, PMI Properties was represented by David Wilson of Lee & Associates and Sugar Publishing, Inc. was represented by Matt Brainard of Studley, Inc.