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The office market from the Calabasas to Camarillo region often called the “Highway 101 Technology Corridor” bustles with companies on the cutting-edge of technology in the United States. With such fast-growing tenants pushing down vacancy rates to around 5 percent for high-quality office space, Katell Properties decided that it’s time to dive back into the development game for the first time this decade. Katell announced that it will break ground on a 70,000-square-foot “speculative” office building meaning construction will begin without tenant pre-lease agreements next spring in its Agoura Hills Business Park. “I feel like an endangered species come back to life,” said Gerald Katell, president of the company. The Agoura Hills project is just a primer compared to the task Katell is about to undertake: the 21-acre mixed-use Warner Ridge development project in Woodland Hills. Katell expects to begin the first phase of the project’s development, construction of 125 multi-family units, in the spring of next year. Katell’s new vigor for development is fueled in part because he doesn’t have any vacancies in his existing properties. Katell recently leased a 23,000-square-foot building at its Nordhoff Business Complex in Chatsworth to Build Rehabilitation Industries, bringing the development company’s portfolio of 1.2 million square feet in the San Fernando Valley, Valencia and Agoura Hills to 100 percent leased. Another real estate investment group, Westlake Village-based Johnston Group, also is bringing more offices to the Conejo Valley market albeit through renovations rather than new development projects. Johnston is currently in escrow to purchase two Westlake office buildings, totaling 108,000 square feet. The investors paid $11 million to purchase the buildings from Amgen, the biotech firm that recently consolidated operations at its Thousand Oaks headquarters. Johnston plans to spend $2 million renovating the buildings, located near Park Terrace Drive and Lindero Canyon Road, according to Cal Johnston, chairman of the company. Johnston also plans to spend about $2 million to renovate its 64,000-square-foot Corporate Plaza in Thousand Oaks, which it bought from Metropolitan Life Insurance for a bit less than $6 million in July. The buildings are currently about 70 percent occupied. Johnston plans to improve the building to “bring it back to its previous Class A status.” The company has been active in the Highway 101 corridor since 1962, back in the days when a single computer could fill an entire room. Johnston started building apartments, then shifted into retail and eventually the office market in the ’80s. Now the company owns 11 buildings spread across 500,000 square feet. Pru mulling sale? The scuttlebutt in Woodland Hills is that Prudential Insurance is seriously considering selling its 500,000-square-foot office building, then leasing back half of it as a tenant. The company currently occupies two separate 250,000-square foot buildings, located near the intersection of Conejo Avenue and Burbank Boulevard. Two-story, campus-style space will probably hit the market early next year. New Jersey-based Prudential, which has owned its 35-acre campus in Woodland Hills for at least 10 years, decided that it wants to sell its real estate holdings across the nation, according to sources close to the negotiations. Officials at the company declined to comment. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal had reported that Prudential was considering selling off its health care group one of the divisions housed in the Woodland Hills office. Peggy Law, a spokeswoman for Prudential, dismissed that report as speculation. The Plant gets Ricon Woodland Hills-based Voit Cos. announced the first tenant at its Van Nuys Center at The Plant project, a 30-acre business park currently under construction. Ricon Corp., a wheelchair lift manufacturer, recently signed a lease to occupy a 150,000-square-foot building that will serve as its manufacturing facility and its new corporate headquarters. The company will consolidate its work force from three of its Valley manufacturing operations at the new building, which is scheduled for completion next fall. Voit and its partner, Westlake Village-based Selleck Development Group Inc., began work on The Plant’s infrastructure last month. The 68-acre development is divided into a 600,000-square-foot industrial park and a 370,000-square-foot retail portion, which is currently 95 percent leased, according to Dan Selleck, president of the shopping center development group. Construction on the buildings is scheduled to begin in February and finish in July, he said. The retail and industrial development is located at Van Nuys Boulevard and Saticoy Street, the site of the former General Motors Plant. Olen building sold There’s hasn’t been a lot of acquisition activity in Studio City lately, but a series of three small, four-story buildings on Lankershim Boulevard recently changed hands. DH Holdings, an entertainment industry post-production company, paid $4.3 million to buy the offices from Olen Properties, an Orange County-based private investment group. The 50,000-square-foot buildings had 30,000 square feet vacant when DH purchased them, according to John Bertram, an executive vice president at Westmac Commercial Brokerage Co. who handled the sale. DH Holdings, which constructs editing facilities to lease out to entertainment companies, intends to occupy all of the vacant space, Bertram said.

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