Garcetti Plan Designed to Cut Red Tape for Developers REAL ESTATE By Shelly Garcia I’ve heard a lot from developers about the inordinate wait time for permits, plan check and the rest of the administrative folderol that accompanies real estate development. And apparently so too has Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti, who has decided to do something about it. Garcetti, who represents the 13th district, has introduced a motion that would add more staff to the planning department and cut the wait time for much of the red tape involved. The motion, currently being studied in the city’s Planning and Land Use Management committee (PLUM), would require an increase in fees developers currently pay. But most of the developers I’ve talked to wouldn’t mind paying more to cut the wait time. Time, after all, is money and it costs a lot more than the likely fee increase. Garcetti introduced the motion because he heard the same refrain from the development community. “I have talked with so many developers who say I am absolutely willing to pay more money for services if it means the planning department would hire more bodies to deal with the backlog they have,” Garcetti told me. The idea has been thrown around once or twice before in City Hall, but the voices that said, if we staff up during real estate up-cycles, what happens when the down cycle comes? won out in the past. The result has been a growing backlog of projects piling up. If the motion gets through PLUM, where the amount of increase required is currently being analyzed, it could go into effect almost immediately. “We could make the changes to the fees right away,” Garcetti said. “And within a month or two that would give us the money to do the hiring for the additional planners, which will get us to a place where we get rid of the backlog.” Garcetti figures the additional staff could cut the wait time by 80 percent, so what had been a one-year process would be reduced to two or three months. Another effort on Garcetti’s plate is a plan to centralize the different forms and applications so that the various agencies requiring them would be able to share the same paperwork. Stay tuned. Airport Center Sold Now you see it, now it’s sold That’s been the story with new industrial development, and the latest version comes from the Burbank Airport Commerce Center developed by Voit Development Co. Nearly all of the first phase of the industrial park, which is actually in Sun Valley at San Fernando Road west of Hollywood Way, is either sold or in escrow barely a month after it was completed and only a year after the developers closed escrow on the property. The first phase, 204,000 square feet, includes 10 buildings, five free standing on individual lots and five industrial condominiums on a common lot that range in size from 9,000 square feet to 46,000 square feet. Among the companies that have closed escrow: Ace Industrial Supply, Happy Jump Inc., makers of kid’s play products, Acme Archives, a media company, and H-Motors Online, an auto parts and accessories company. Another buyer and a tenant who will lease one of the buildings were not disclosed. “It’s the first time Voit has ever developed condominiums so we were a little apprehensive about how the market would receive that product,” said Tim Regan, vice president of development and acquisitions for Voit. “But the concept of an industrial condominium was never a question with any of the deals.” Regan said part of the attraction was the construction, which provides each owner with its own roof system. “It looks, feels and acts just like its own little building, and that’s what was such a great selling point,” he said. Another attraction: the buildings have 24-foot clearance. The properties, which sold in the range of $100 a square foot to $130 a square foot, were marketed by David Young and Chad Gahr at NAI Capital Commercial. With just one building of 9,000 square feet remaining in the first phase, Voit is now beginning the second phase of the development, which will total 480,000 square feet when completed. The developers expect to complete the remaining 280,000 square feet of development by next May. Warner Center Action It looks like Warner Center is again due for a change of the guard. The 448,000-square-foot high rise that houses Wellpoint Health Networks Inc.’s Blue Cross of California unit is on the block. The property includes the 13-story office building on almost 6.3 acres of land. The parking area operates under an easement. According to the offering brochure, the Wellpoint lease continues to 2019. Jay Borzi and Stephen Silk and Stephen Somer at Secured Capital Corp. are marketing the property. The listing is one of two to come up recently. Last issue we reported that the 21st Century towers were also on the block. North Hollywood Sale An 18,000-square-foot industrial building in North Hollywood sold for $2.3 million. The buyers, C & D; Visionary Inc., which makes novelties, will be using the building for warehousing. Stacy Vierheilig at Charles Dunn Co. represented the buyers. The seller, L.A. Gym, was represented by Eli Ezban at Precision Properties. Correction Due to a researcher error, Investment Real Estate Associates was not on the Business Journal’s list of the Valley’s largest real estate brokerages, which was published on Aug. 30. IREA in 2003 conducted $191.9 million worth of sale deals, a figure which placed the brokerage in the No. 10 spot on the Business Journal’s list. IREA, which is located at 16501 Ventura Blvd. Suite 448 in Encino, in 2002 conducted $119.2 million worth of sale deals. IREA, which has 14 brokers, all in the greater San Fernando Valley area, offers office, retail, industrial, apartment, land and investment property acquisitions and dispositions services. Senior reporter Shelly Garcia can be reached at (818) 316-3123.