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.

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.

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.