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Friday, Feb 3, 2023
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Mom and Pops Play Catch Up as Larger Firms Make Big Moves

The Human Services Agency of Ventura County leased 57,200 square feet at the Younan Executive Center in Simi Valley. The 10-year deal brings the building at 2900 N. Madera Road to full occupancy. The agency will move in by the end of August. The Lexington, a 178-unit apartment building in Agoura Hills, sold for $53.1 million. Ezralow Co., a property management firm in Calabasas, paid $299,000 a unit, or $374 per square foot. The 142,150-square-foot property at 30856 Agoura Road was sold by Equity Residential of Chicago, a publicly traded company chaired by former L.A. Times owner Sam Zell. Agoura Village Center sold for $5.65 million. The shopping center at 29020 Agoura Road in Agoura Hills counts Prime Steakhouse and Teague Pilates among its tenants and has 19,500 square feet of leasable space. The buyer was a GJD Holdings LP, a Montecito investment firm. Topaz Distribution LLC renewed its lease for 155,732 square feet of warehouse space at 2280 Ward Ave. in Simi Valley. The company ships lighting and electrical appliances. Terms were not available. YS Properties LLC in Los Angeles paid $4.4 million to buy the Shops at Camarillo Town Center. The 8,000-square-foot property at 415 W. Ventura Blvd. was sold by private Orange County investor. Tenants include Eyeglass Factory and T-Mobile. Beachbody LLC, the company behind the P90x fitness videos, leased nearly 16,000 square feet at 30699 Russell Ranch Road in Westlake Village. The 133,000-square-foot building is part of the Westlake North Business Park. Terms were not available. Morton Capital Management exemplifies the Conejo Valley office market. During the first quarter, the investment firm’s signage was whited out on the side of a Calabasas office building along the 101 Freeway, but a new sign appeared a few miles away at 27200 W. Agoura Road in Agoura Hills. The company plans to move from its old headquarters to the new location in a few weeks. Chief Executive Lon Morton said the move will increase his company’s footprint from 6,300 square feet to 9,500 square feet. “We needed it for expansion,” he said. “We looked all over and liked the country feel of that building.” Broker Bill Kiefer, executive vice president at the Westlake Village office of NAI Capital, said the Conejo Valley has become one of the livelier submarkets in the L.A. region, with a mix of small tenants coming into the market and large tenants renewing their leases. Among the larger deals, he pointed to State Farm Insurance’s renewal for 51,000 square feet at its freeway-facing office at 31303 Agoura Road in Westlake Village. “Some of the bigger companies are rebounding faster, but now the mom-and-pops are playing catchup,” Kiefer said. “The average tenants looking for 2,000 to 5,000 square feet are back on their feet again.” All that movement gobbled up 95,000 square feet of space, pushing down vacancy rates a tenth of a point to 14.8 percent during the quarter, according to data from the L.A. office of Colliers International. Asking rents fell marginally to $2.19 a square foot from $2.22 in the previous quarter. In the industrial sector, Patrick DuRoss, a broker in Collier’s Encino office, said the 2.4 percent vacancy rate has pushed tenants and landlords to get creative and lease properties that might not be ideal for their intended use. “You can’t be as picky about your location,” he said. “Your company decision-makers and employees should feel good about it, but you have to expand your horizons more than two years ago.” Landlords jumped on their advantage, raising asking rates by 2 cents to 74 cents a square foot as 128,000 square feet of space was sold or leased during the quarter. That was double the activity of the prior quarter and four times as much as a year earlier, according to Colliers. Industrial tenants seeking space are mostly in the solar energy, flooring, construction and pharmaceutical industries, DuRoss said. For example, General Pavement Management, a Santa Paula street repair firm, bought the building at 850 Lawrence Drive in Thousand Oaks for $2.65 million. The property has about 40,000 square feet of space and land for expansion. Both DuRoss and Kiefer expect the deal flow to accelerate during the rest of the year. So does Bill Hagelis, president of Hagelis Group in Ventura, a retail brokerage. Hagelis sees the opening of the Target Corp. store in the upscale Shoppes at Westlake outdoor mall as a harbinger of the future. The discounter’s merchandise has scored with upscale shoppers of the Conejo Valley and now other national chains are looking to do the same. One option is expanding the Camarillo Premium Outlets, owned by mall giant Simon Property Group LP in Morristown, N.J. The company has several pads available for construction in Camarillo, and is in negotiation with tenants. Other retail projects are on the drawing board for Camarillo and Newbury Park, Hagelis noted. “A lot of these projects were on hold during the recession and now they’re coming back to the planning process and moving forward,” he said. “I see that as a positive.” – Joel Russell

Joel Russel
Joel Russel
Joel Russell joined the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2006 as a reporter. He transferred to sister publication San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2012 as managing editor. Since he assumed the position of editor in 2015, the Business Journal has been recognized four times as the best small-circulation tabloid business publication in the country by the Alliance of Area Business Publishers. Previously, he worked as senior editor at Hispanic Business magazine and editor of Business Mexico.
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