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Moorpark’s Aspiring Tech Hub Filling Up Fast

Northern L.A. County has emerged as a magnet for a new type of enterprise: tech and biotech startups. First came Northridge, where Shubin Nadal’s redevelopment of the Mix at Harman Campus has attracted tenants such as social media giant Facebook and biomedical leader HemaCare. Now, the Simi Valley/Moorpark submarket is reaping the benefits from a rising tide of tenant demand for quality warehouse space as companies flow northwest out of the impacted West San Fernando Valley area, which is currently low on available industrial inventory exceeding 100,000 square feet. Moorpark City Manager Troy Brown told the Business Journal that the key is for his city to create an environment for tech industries to succeed. “The challenge is to create a business environment that will translate that attention into action,” Brown said. “The Kosmont-Rose Institute found us among the 20 least expensive cities in California in their Cost of Doing Business survey – that’s part of it. As a city staff, we make sure we are very accessible and responsive to business needs.” The strategy appears to work as developer Nearon recently completed the extensive renovation and lease-up of a 140,000-square-foot manufacturing facility to AeroVironment Inc., the publicly traded manufacturer of drones for defense and commercial. Lee & Associates – LA North/Ventura, Inc. President Michael Tingus and colleague Grant Fulkerson represented Nearon in the transaction. Jerry Porter and Seth Wellisch of Cresa represented AeroVironment. Upon its acquisition of 14501 Princeton Ave. in late 2017, Nearon had hired design firm PK Architecture, contractor RCI Builders, and project management firm Level PM to embark on an extensive renovation of the 1985-built manufacturing property. During the renovation, Nearon fully leased the building to single-tenant AeroVironment. The Princeton Avenue deal is the latest addition to Moorpark’s growing hub. In addition to AeroVironment, Turbonetics is based on Princeton Avenue and Laritech is located on Condor Drive. On the landlord end, Westcore Properties and a partnership of Ridge Development/Transwestern/Principal REI/CalSTRS recently purchased several hundred thousand square feet of property at 6100 Condor Drive; and LifeTech Resources can be found on nearby Science Drive, while Nearon owns another similar manufacturing property at 200 Science Drive, where Benchmark Electronics is the tenant. “Ensign-Bickford, Topaz Systems, and Gooch & Housego all have large presences in Moorpark, working on everything from your defense and military systems to electronic signature pads,” Brown said. “Attracting high technology has always been a priority. Laritech, today one of Moorpark’s largest employers, started out designing circuit boards out of a Moorpark garage. Fast forward a couple decades, and they’ve moved and expanded over and over again – all over Moorpark.” Nearon Vice President Nick Rini told the Business Journal that Moorpark has become ideal for companies such as AeroVironment to lay roots. “At the core of the market is the strength of its innovative R&D and manufacturing base,” Rini said. As real estate brokers say, Moorpark’s emerging tech industry is also about location, location, location. “It’s access to the San Fernando Valley and the Conejo Valley provides employers with a vast pool of highly skilled employees,” Tingus said. “Most of the emerging companies are doing research, development and prototyping and small-scale manufacturing. It’s been truly amazing to see the areas growth in the past five years.”

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.
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