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New commercial construction in the greater San Fernando Valley area is at almost a standstill. And rising vacancy rates, decreasing rents, and lack of available financing are making chances of a turnaround unlikely in the near-term. But developments already under construction, some of which stray from strictly commercial, continue to move forward. A few of these include: CSUN Valley Performing Arts Center; Patriot Commerce Center in Moorpark; Palmdale Regional Medical Center; and the Patient Care Wing at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center. During the second quarter of 2009, no new office space was delivered to the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County market, according to Colliers International. However, there was 283,500 square feet of office space underway, including the 180,000 square foot office building component of NoHo Commons in North Hollywood, and a 103,100 square foot office building in Canyon Country, the report said. Planned office projects totaled 1.8 million square feet and included developments such as a second 100,000 square foot building at Entrada Gateway Center in the Santa Clarita Valley, and the 361,000 square foot Opus Corporate Center at Westlake Village. But developers don’t expect to break ground until economic conditions improve. On the industrial side, a total of 15,500 square feet of new space was delivered in the second quarter, including a building located at 25261 Ave. Tibbetts in Santa Clarita. Construction activity remained low with a total of 346,900 square feet underway. But that number is up from 167,300 square feet in Q2 2008. Construction underway includes five buildings totaling 175,300 square feet at the Chatsworth Commerce Center. There’s currently 975,300 square feet of proposed construction, with most projects being build-to-suit. But, as with office, developers are holding off until the economy improves, according to the Colliers report. Valley Performing Arts Center Construction of the 166,000 square foot, 1,700 seat, CSUN Valley Performing Arts Center halted right after Christmas due to state budget issues, according to Brett Curry, vice president of operations for Pasadena-based general contractor, C.W. Driver. The project was about 30 percent complete at the time and many of the 125 workers on the job were let go. But the project got the green light again in late February. Curry said it wasn’t moving forward at full steam until May because of the time it took to re-hire workers and secure suppliers. “Unfortunately you can’t just turn the project back on,” said Curry, adding the ripple effect of halting construction led to some suppliers laying off workers. Now it takes a lot longer to get some materials. The performing arts center is in the steel phase of construction and Curry said it’s about 50 percent complete. The estimated date of completion is August 2010, if funding stays intact. The project currently has guaranteed funding for another 10 months of construction. The state will then likely have to raise the additional capital through a bond sale, said Curry. “It’s still not 100 percent guaranteed that we’ll have enough to make it to the end,” he said. Patriot Commerce Center The more than 100,000 square foot first phase of the Patriot Commerce Center in Moorpark was officially unveiled in April. The business park includes Class A industrial, office buildings and condos. Lee and Associates is the exclusive marketing agent for the property; RCI acted as general contractor; and M.W. Ossola & Associates is the developer and property owner. Mike Tingus of Lee & Associates said construction on the first phase started in April 2008 and was completed a month early and under budget. However, the economic climate has made it difficult to fill the space. “We would have expected to be out by now,” said Tingus, “but it’s probably going to be another 12 to 18 months before we’re out.” Nearly half of the first phase of Patriot Commerce Center was pre-sold while it was under construction, said Tingus. But a major tenant had to pull out because of financial pressures, which dropped the amount of pre-sold space to five percent. But, given the fact there’s not a lot of competition in the Moorpark region for this type of space, Patriot is generating interest. Lee & Associates closed on six units totaling 20,000 square feet; hopes to close on another 4,500 square foot space in the next week; and is in negotiations for construction of a build to suit facility. “Financially, we’re not in a panic to drop prices drastically,” said Tingus, “and the sales are coming in close to the asking price.” Medical Centers Construction of the 370,000 square foot Palmdale Regional Medical Center began three years ago, and unlike many projects in the Valley and elsewhere, hasn’t stopped or stalled since. The 239-bed medical facility in the Antelope Valley is in the home stretch and slated to be completed by the end of the year, according to Alan Rindlisbacher, spokesperson for general contractor, Layton Construction Company in Salt Lake City, Utah. “Everything is done and enclosed and we’re down to painting, installing doors and cabinets, flooring and other finish work,” said Rindlisbacher. “The economy has not slowed us down. Just the opposite; it has given us more access to manpower and materials.” Holy Cross Medical Center is building a new $180 million Patient Care Wing that’s scheduled to open in 2010. The 186,000 square foot, four-story building will add 136 beds to the hospital and include a 12-bed neonatal intensive care unit and Women’s Pavilion with state-of-the-art labor and delivery suites. Holy Cross said the project, which broke ground on May 12, will create 250 full-time hospital jobs and 171 construction jobs. The hospital is also planning on pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the addition.Very few hospitals in the U.S. have pursued this designation. McCarthy Building Companies Inc. is the general contractor.

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