Transit and Parking is Coming Near 10951 Pico Creative Offices at Sepulveda/Pico Expo Line, But Will Employees Walk?

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Photo courtesy of Curbed Los Angeles

New and exciting things are happening in the 10951 Pico neighborhood! The Expo line will connect the area around 10951 Pico with transit to Downtown and Santa Monica, as well as providing 1,795 new parking spaces.  It will also feature a 250 space free Caltran commuter lot.  The Expo Station will be less than a half mile from the 10951 Pico Creative Offices (at Veteran Avenue and Pico Boulevard), making the walk just under ten minutes.  Compared to other cities, where a ten minute walk is nothing, LA Westsiders consider this trek an inconvenience.  Even a short five-minute walk borders as unbearable.  Los Angelenos just don’t walk from parking or transit to work.

Even now, there is plentiful free parking along the Expo line that is a five-minute walk from the 10951 Pico Creative Offices.  However, some tenants do not recognize such parking as convenient.

In Beverly Hills for example, some office deals hinge on parking spaces next to the elevator.  It can get that competitive.  More transit and parking is coming, but the big question is if employees will get used to walking back and forth from the parking located 5-10 minutes away from their respective work locations.  As office densities continue to increase beyond five per 1000 square feet, tenants and employees alike will need find locations near parking and transit, and learn to walk longer to work.  A University of Michigan survey found that teenagers in 2010 were much less likely to drive than teenagers in 1983, so maybe times are changing.

The mixed-use project proposed at the Sepulveda/Pico site includes on-site bike and car sharing facilities, bicycle parking, and will even offer transit incentives and free or discounted Metro Passes to residents and employees by the developer.  Once this project is finished, time will tell if those enticing amenities and incentives will encourage more people to use transit to get to work.To learn more, read about the proposed parking in this article.

Will Parking Panda Come to Los Angeles Next?

After offering their services to drivers in Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Parking Panda has gone live in the Bay Area.  Here is another disruptive San Francisco based technology that enables garage owners and homeowners to rent out their unused parking spaces (think of homeowners with empty driveways during the day), and in turn, allows drivers to find those spaces and submit rental requests.  TechCrunch outlines the exciting details for commuters in their article published today.

Image courtesy of TechCrunch

The Parking Panda application allows users to view available parking spaces based on their current driving location.  Parking Panda has only gone live in three cities for full functionality for parking spot listings and rental requests.  In 25 other cities, Parking Panda offers a parking finder function for drivers.  Parking Panda has plans to go live in Boston, Philadelphia, Austin, and another west coast city within the next few months.

Parking Panda’s website and application has an easily accessible interface that allows users to either “Find Parking,” “List a Space,” and a link that explains “How it Works.”

Scarce parking in Los Angeles has long been an issue, especially on the Westside.  Numerous tech, media and digital tenants are searching for ways to find more parking spots for their employees on a daily basis.  In August, we published a blog, “The Coming Collision of Office Densification and Parking in Los Angeles,” where we described the parking conundrum that most of the Los Angeles workforce has to deal with.  Parking Panda may help alleviate apart of this dilemma, and we hope to see this promising company expand to Southern California in the near future.

RidePal: An Alternative for LA Commuters

The latest article from TechCrunch introduced RidePal, a company that recently received $500K from 500 startups.  RidePal is part of the collaborative consumption movement that originates out of social networking in the Bay Area. Referred to as a “Google Shuttle for the rest of us,” RidePal is an innovative idea that should also be brought to Los Angeles.  It has the potential to alleviate the parking conundrum and terrible commutes that plague Los Angelenos.  The service allows companies, employers, and building owners to share the cost of shuttle services to transport employees to and from work.

Image courtesy of RidePal’s website

RidePal is a system that offers shared commuting buses equipped with Wi-Fi as well as a ticketing, reservation, and management platform.  It currently uses a total of 15 routes that link San Francisco with the east bay, south bay, and peninsula.  RidePal partners with several bus companies and builds new routes based on the demands and needs of companies and their employees.  The shuttle program has been especially attractive for growing companies that are looking to expand their workforce because it is easier to retain and recruit employees from outside the area.

Not only is RidePal an eco-friendly method of transportation, but it also benefits both companies and employees.  Businesses that choose to bring this service to their employees don’t need to pay for the entire bus, but only pay for the capacity they need, which allows them to save costs.  For employees, RidePal offers the opportunity to spend their normal commuting hours surfing the Web, completing work, or just enjoying newly freed up time that was spent driving before.

If RidePal was brought to Los Angeles, Culver City, for example, could finally put to use their underutilized city and privately owned parking lots.  The shuttle bus would provide transportation at these parking lots as well as to the Expo stations.  It would only take one major employer without sufficient on-site parking and the Expo to begin this service to offsite parking lots and the Expo. The cost could be shared with other employers who want to also use a shuttle service for this purpose.

After San Francisco, RidePal aims to eventually bring their service to other top urban clusters.  Hopefully the program’s success in Northern California will influence companies in Los Angeles to take a second look into similar ride-sharing programs for their employees.

The Coming Collision of Office Densification and Parking in Los Angeles

Office tenants, especially in digital technology, continue to fit more people into the same amount of space.  Open floor plans and higher ceilings support this greater density.  In Los Angeles, workers drive to work and parking is limited.  The normal office building has three parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of office space.  All the while, office density is growing to five users per 1,000 square feet and greater.  Companies want to supply parking for their employees.  They don’t want to force their employees to carpool, have to take transit, walk more than very short distances to park, or have to ride a shuttle.  This reality is hard on planners.  It will be a good idea to begin to introduce the Los Angeles creative work force to these alternative methods.  The reality is that brokers and tenants are requesting additional onsite parking more frequently.  Densities are continuing to go up and building owners, brokers, and companies need to deal with issue.

Video Content Companies Make their Mark in West Los Angeles

Los Angeles is behind such cities as New York, Boston, and San Francisco in digital technology. However, in the niche market of video content for the web, Los Angeles may be number one.  Los Angeles is flexing its content muscle to spawn startups involved in original content made for the web.  This movement is as old as the dot-com boom itself.  Since high-definition web video is so inexpensive to create, there is a renewed interest in producing new and innovative original programming for the web.  YouTube started adding over 100 new channels with all original content creators in 2011.  Netflix launched an original show on its platform in February of 2012, with plans to add more programming in 2013.  Hulu.com announced it will also start creating original programming for its users.  Many users of both sites have expressed their excitement and support of this creative action.

Web content companies are forming in different pockets all around Westside Los Angeles and Hollywood. Another prominent area where web content companies are clustering is around the Hayden Tract in Culver City.  PMI recently leased 13,000 square feet to Mahalo.com and 15,000 square feet to Sugar Publishing Inc.  Mahalo.com is a video and web company specializing in instructional content.  Recently, Mahalo started producing instructional applications for the iPad.  Sugar Publishing, Inc. is the parent company of the popular video site Popsugar.  Maker Studios, a YouTube content company, recently leased 18,000 square feet a few blocks away from Mahalo and Sugar at 5877 Rodeo.  According to this article from The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong’s Four Wall Studios leased space at Conjuctive Point, adjacent to Mahalo and Sugar Publishing, and is allegedly building a $20 million studio in Culver City.

YouTube also recently leased 30,000 square feet for a studio in Playa Vista.  One of our previous tenants, Machinima.com, occupies 30,000 square feet in Hollywood.  They started with 150 square feet in one of our creative executive suites at 10951 Pico Boulevard in 2007.  They are now the most watched channel on YouTube.

Due to the fact there is so much interest in creative office space on the Westside, and especially in Culver City, now is the perfect time for solutions to be developed and executed in regards to the demand for parking.  Culver City must work to help supply the parking these incoming companies require.  Tenants are starting to make parking a large priority before they lease office space.  A broker representing one 50,000 square foot tenant recently called PMI’s offices to ask advice on how to handle their parking needs if they leased space in the Hayden Tract.  Culver City expressed a desire to ameliorate the parking situation and has already made some commitments to facilitate this resource.  In addition, improving the lunch time amenities for the increasing workforce would also be beneficial.

Some large content firms are rumored to be sniffing around Culver City for creative space.  We can’t say at this time if any or all of these firms will be successful in the long run.  PMI has had their share of tenant failures and successes in the past.  We are privileged to share that some of our previous tenant successes have included Twitter, Yammer, Eventbrite, Stylespot, and Applied Semantics.  Despite the challenges PMI has faced in its leasing history, we feel that leasing space to any growing technology company is worth the risk in this economy.

Culver City Moves Aggressively to Attract Creative Office Firms with Innovative Redevelopment

Culver City is doing many things to make the city attractive to new businesses that would occupy creative offices.  The city is working with the Hayden Tract Property Owners Association to create 120 new parking spaces on the rail spur in the Hayden Tract.  These parking spaces will be just west of Stellar between Eastham and Hayden Avenue.  Recently, the city boldly moved at the end of January to pass three redevelopment properties that could benefit creative office tenants in the Hayden Tract.  For example,  Culver City committed to spend $5 million dollars to purchase 180 parking rights for public use in a new parking garage.  This garage is slated to be built on Higuera and Hayden by Hackman Properties. This garage will supplement a new 500 car garage at La Cienega and Jefferson recently completed by Cal Tran in conjunction with the opening of the Expo light rail later this year.  In addition, new street parking along National Boulevard between Washington and Jefferson has been added.  The Syd Krononthal Park at Eastham and National has received a new signal and a cross walk leading to it.  Not only will Culver City have an elevated Expo light rail station at La Cienega and Jefferson, but it will also have a similar station at Washington and Venice.  A new bike line and walking path will span the entire length of the light rail line.

Culver City is expected to build a pedestrian plaza and make landscape improvements around the station.  A temporary 600 car parking lot will be provided on the city’s land near the station as well.  The City also approved in late January an agreement with Lowe Development to sell this land parcel next to the Culver City light rail station so Lowe can build a development.  This future development area will have a mix of housing, office, retail and restaurant use.  These developments will be surrounding a large central open space amenity that will connect seamlessly with the new station.  In addition, the development will include 1,500 parking spaces, some of which will be for monthly rental to Hayden Tract owners and companies.

Close by, at Culver and Washington (9300 Washington), Culver City at the end of January committed to sell Hudson Realty and Combined Properties’ land to build a mixed use project. The proposed project includes ground-level retail, a four-story office building, and a grand stairway that leads pedestrians up to a restaurant pavilion.  There will also be a landscaped elevated plaza perched above the existing Town Square. The City in late January committed to sell land to build a new state of the art jazz club that will be operated by the Jazz Bakery.

The City has aggressively been courting new creative companies to locate in Culver City.  Unlike other Westside cities in Los Angeles, Culver City has displayed the ability to meet with companies and offer expedited permitting for their improvement.

Creative office  tenants appreciate Culver City for it’s rich urban experience. Culver City attracts young, knowledgeable workers due to the mix of chic restaurants, vibrant bar scene, new art district, the close proximity to affordable apartments, and easy access to Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Downtown Los Angeles.  Playa Vista, a competitve location for creative companies, lacks this rich urban experience.  In 2000, Culver City became a magnet for entertainment and internet companies fleeing the high rents of Santa Monica.  Culver City had a plentiful supply of architecturally attractive industrial buildings preferred by the creative types.  At the current time, however, Culver City is addressing the insufficient parking problem that many of these buildings have.

Culver City has a rich history of bold moves in redevelopment. It invested heavily in infrastructure and parking in its downtown district.  Culver City went so far as to build and own a multiplex theatre and Trader Joe’s in early 2000.  The current new developments come as no surprise from a city that is always in the forefront of innovation. Culver City has done an amazing job creating and executing the many improvements that will make it one of the prime locations to live, work, and play.

Here’s a First: San Francisco Rescinds Parking Requirements on two PMI Buildings

PMI recently applied for a variance which would reduce the parking requirements on two of its office buildings in the SoMa district of San Francisco.  The City granted the variance on 625 Third Street and 539 Bryant citing that San Francisco has substantially improved its public transit in the area.  The City also recently changed the parking zoning requirement from a minimum number of spaces required to a maximum number of spaces allowed.  Both properties are of easy walking distance to the Caltrain and within a block of municipal transit which runs every four minutes for a ten minute ride to BART.  Transit options will exponentially increase for the two properties.  The City has commenced construction on the new fourth street subway which will connect Caltrain SoMa with Chinatown with a stop near BART.  PMI has also contributed to the transit-friendly situation.  At PMI’s buildings, arrangements have been made with a garage near the Embarcadero BART Station for tenants to park their bikes at the garage overnight.  Tenants can then take the BART into the city and ride their bikes the rest of the way to work.  At 410 Townsend in SoMa, near Caltrain, PMI made arrangements for Zipcar, a car sharing company, to keep cars in its garage for the benefit of their tenants.

PMI Properties is an owner and investor in creative office buildings on the Westside of Los Angeles and in San Francisco.  Availabilities include 2,000 square feet in Santa Monica and Marina Del Ray and up to 18,000 square feet in Culver City.   For more information, go to http://www.pmiproperty.com.