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Tuesday, Jun 6, 2023

NoHo Redevelopment Moving Slowly but Surely

Although some see the North Hollywood Redevelopment area as being in a bit of a stall, others believe the area is doing as well as can be expected in a challenging economy. The credit crunch has been a big factor, according to Tom Dujovne, JH Snyder’s chief investment officer. “I can tell you we went to 42 banks to get a construction loan,” he said. “This is something we’ve never had to do.” Dirt is flying now on the third phase of Snyder’s NoHo Commons complex and they have signed a lease for one-third of the new tower. The Art Institute of California, a for-profit entity, will be taking 60,000 square feet on the first through fourth floors. “It’s a culinary school,” said Dujovne, “and there will be a 10,000-square-foot restaurant on the bottom floor that will be open to the public and to the tenants.” Panera Bread is scheduled to open any day now at the Commons, and Spumante opened Aug. 18 in one of JSM’s mixed-use buildings on Magnolia Boulevard. After 17 years on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, Spumante’s landlord would not renew their lease, said owner Joe Salas. “It took two-and-a-half years to open,” he said, “and now we have all our old employees back.” <!– Commons: Phase III underway. –> Commons: Phase III underway. When asked how things were going in the new space, he replied, “So far, so good.” That might also be the description of the redevelopment process itself, according to all of those interviewed for this story. “These things take time,” counseled Councilman Tom LaBonge. “We’re all very anxious to see it complete, to make people feel that they’re home in NoHo again.” The historic Bank Heist building on Lankershim Boulevard is still boarded up after a devastating fire on Jan. 7 forced the flourishing restaurant and nightclub to close less than two months after its grand opening. Building owner Bob Akhavan, who is also president of the NoHo Business Improvement District, said that doesn’t mean nothing’s happening with the site. The roof has been repaired and all of the structural damage to the property has been remediated, he said. The tenant, “just finished negotiations for the claim with their insurance company,” said Akhavan. “They’re hoping to have tenant improvement work start in the next few weeks.” Another linchpin project in the redevelopment area, the NoHo 14 apartment building, has again delayed its opening. “We are very near opening; just a few last minor construction items need to be addressed,” wrote building manager Thomas Meredith for JSM, the project’s developer and builder on Aug. 22 in response to an e-mail query. A spokeperson with the Community Redevelopment Agency said the building was awarded its certificate of occupancy in July. “I was told, they’re close to getting the installation of their gas meters and moving forward,” said LaBonge. “There have been some changes in the management of the company that have developed this property but it looks like a tremendous building.” Two of the company’s key executives departed the firm last month. JSM President Craig Jones was unavailable to comment on that, or on the tower delays, or on the company’s lawsuit alleging the CRA acted improperly in imposing new design guidelines after project approval. The lawsuit is still in process but a CRA spokesperson said “To my knowledge, the lawsuit is not the reason for the delay.” Lowe Enterprises is still in negotiations with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority after being selected in September as master developer for a major mixed-use development spanning four separate parcels around the North Hollywood Metro station. “We’re still slowly working through the process with the MTA,” said Tom Wulf, senior vice president for Lowe. “We’re negotiating the terms of the ground lease and what we’re going to do with the property.” The original proposal was for about 1.7 million square feet of space including a parking structure on the site of the surface parking lot next to the Metro station; about 500 residential units; just under one million square feet of commercial office; and between 250,00 and 300,00 square feet of retail and restaurants. Construction would be phased over about 10 years, Wulf said. “Best case, the first phase would break ground in 24 to 36 months.” But before that happens the lease has to be finalized, planning meetings with the community and other interest parties have to be held, and architects and engineers have to design the buildings. Wulf is not deterred. As someone who grew up in Southern California, he is passionate about smarter development. “It is so expensive to build a mile of subway, so let’s put the density where the transit already is and give people a reason to use the transit.” Nice Sale The three-story, 61,000-square-foot office building at 28720 Roadside Drive in Agoura Hills has been sold for approximately $12 million. Bruce Frasco, executive vice president of NAI Capital in their Westlake Village office represented seller Holualoa Realty Advisors and also worked with Tom Specker of Lee & Associates in representing the buyer, Shamrock Plaza LP. Frasco said problems securing a $7 million loan nearly put the kibosh on the deal. “It took several months to locate suitable and attractive financing in today’s very difficult capital markets,” he said. Staff Reporter Linda Coburn can be reached at (818) 316-3123 or at lcoburn@sfvbj.com .

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