Not long ago, Culver City was widely perceived as a small, relatively quiet community within the West Los Angeles submarket that offered older office properties at affordable rents. The city’s downtown is now undergoing a revitalization that is in part driven by its connection to Los Angeles’ Metro Rail system with the opening of the Culver City Metro Expo Line light rail station in 2012.
The Expo Line’s extension to Santa Monica in 2016 further improved downtown Culver City’s connection to neighboring municipalities and its attractiveness to office and retail tenants. The downtown area has attracted commercial real estate developers’ attention as a walkable location with a good mix of retail, hospitality and office properties and a vibrant arts district. Culver City has long been known for hosting entertainment studios and offices, and is now attracting a broader range of office and retail tenants.
At CRE.Converge, attendees began a tour of recent development projects in Culver City at One Culver, located on the western side of downtown Culver City. Originally built in 1986, the eight-floor building was previously occupied by Sony Pictures as part of the company’s larger office and studio complex in Culver City. LBA Realty acquired and renovated the property in 2017.
With the guidance of Gensler architects, LBA made several significant improvements to the building. Exterior improvements focused on updating the building’s façade and making landscaping improvements to the large planters surrounding the building to give the property a modern, lush and inviting appearance. LBA also spent significant resources to create a multistory atrium lobby, removing protruding opera-box-like structures from the original lobby, opening interior walls and adding a stepping communal terrace to create an open and contemporary interior space. The atrium’s sloping glass ceiling also features a large interior-facing digital display that is designed to activate the lobby.
LBA also renovated an interior studio space that it now offers to entertainment firms on a short-term rental basis. The interior studio includes a 360-degree green screen as well as more traditional studio spaces. In addition to the studio space and traditional office tenants, LBA has leased a significant portion of the property to an Equinox health club and also leases space to a WeWork location.
The tour continued to the construction site at Ivy Station, a new 500,000-square-foot mixed-use, transit-oriented development on land purchased from Culver City. The site is immediately adjacent to the Culver City Expo light rail station, with the rail line forming the property’s southwestern border. The development will include 148 hotel rooms, 200 apartment units, 55,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and restaurants and a 200,000-square-foot office building. The buildings within the development will surround two acres of landscaped public open space and plazas.
The development will include several open-air terraces and balconies, including a large office atrium with an open-air exterior staircase linking the building’s multiple levels. The completed boutique hotel will also feature a large rooftop lounge and pool that will differentiate the property from most other development in the area. Lowe plans to program public spaces with a mixture of events, including movie nights, fitness classes, craft fairs, concerts, shows and seasonal activities. In addition to the property’s amenities, future tenants and hotel guests will have easy access to Culver City’s walkable downtown and will be able to take public transit to major destinations across Los Angeles via the adjacent light rail station.
While construction began in 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2020, according to Tom Wulf, Senior Vice President at Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group, it took five years for Lowe to secure all the necessary entitlements for the project.
The Ivy Station tour afforded CRE.Converge attendees a rare opportunity to see a project in the latter stages of its construction. Wulf and members of the construction team led participants through each of the buildings, noting the development’s unique features and project challenges.
As NAIOP Research Director, Shawn Moura manages the NAIOP Research Foundation research committee and day-to-day operations of the Foundation’s research projects.