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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Needham Ranch Moves Needle to the North

 Joint developers Trammell Crow Co. and Clarion Partners LLC saw a series of deals during the year at Center at Needham Ranch, with two new high-profile occupants coming onboard last month.The 252-acre industrial development is located adjacent to Newhall Pass and a short drive from 14 and the 5 freeways in Santa Clarita.

With six buildings, Phase I of II is comprised of roughly 900,000 square feet of class A industrial product.Two November lease deals made headlines. They involve beverage-maker DrinkPak and entertainment facility provider LA North Studios.DrinkPak and LA North Studios join a pair of high-profile tenants already occupying the phase I space at the Center. In January, entertainment services provider Illumination Dynamics became the center’s first tenant by taking 67,000 square feet at Building 1. In May, Amazon.com Inc. announced that it would be planting an e-commerce delivery facility at the site.Amazon has shown a voracious appeitite for industry space during the pandemic, so landing the company at Needham Ranch was important for the landlords.“Pretty much every spec project, they took off the market,” Trammell Crow Principal John Balestra told the Business Journal with respect to Amazon. “All of that competitive supply virtually is already gone.”Incoming tenantsDrinkPak signed a lease to occupy Building 2, a 172,000-square-foot commitment.“They had a lot of experience working in Ventura County,” Balestra said. “They were originally looking for a smaller building, (until) they saw the building, saw the location.”DrinkPak, which will move in by late spring, is currently customizing its space at The Center to suit its production equipment and factory infrastructure. In addition, “we’ve got additional tenant improvement work to do,”  Balestra noted.A few days after the announcement of DrinkPak’s decade-long lease, the center’s developers confirmed that entertainment entity LA North Studios — which already has two locations in Santa Clarita at 25045 Ave. Tibbitts and 24834 Ave. Rockerfeller — would take Building 5’s 113,640 square feet with a five-year lease.LA North Studios provides soundstages, studios and other production services to major film studios, and it plans to convert Building 5 to a soundstage hub.

“That studio activity is really just getting back, getting underway,” Balestra said. “They understand the rules of filming in a COVID environment.”John Prabhu, a partner with Anthony Syracuse at LA North Studios, told the Business Journal that the business-friendliness of Santa Clarita makes Needham Ranch very attractive for his company.LA North Studios’ original 143,000-square-foot facility at Avenue Tibbitts involved converting a traditional warehouse into five certified soundstages that range in size from 22,000 to 28,000 square feet. Prabhu said it was a very positive and smooth experience working with Santa Clarita’s Planning and Building & Safety departments. Also, the area has plenty of production and post-production service providers.“Santa Clarita has quietly become a go-to destination for TV and feature film productions,” Prabhu said.When Illumination became the first tenant at Needham Ranch, Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. President Holly Schroeder said in a statement: “They are exactly the type of company we want to see move here and further proof the Santa Clarita Valley is an ideal location for the entertainment industry.”Phase IIAt the moment, Phase II is designed for about 10 buildings and 500 million feet of warehouse space. However, the next six months will be crucial as the incoming tenants will influence how Phase II’s 25 acres will be laid out.

The two remaining warehouses at The Center’s phase 1 – Buildings 3 and 4 – have agreements pending with CBRE’s Craig Peters entertaining multiple offers – “some full-, some partial-building users,” Balestra said, while an announcement about the occupier of Building 6 is imminent.Balestra said that construction kicked off on Phase II in late November with gradings and tree removals while a small ceremonial groundbreaking event is currently scheduled internally for mid-December.“We continue to entertain interest in Phase II,” said Balestra, who chalks up the success of the recently opened corporate park to a general lack of industrial inventory in the region as well as the innate geographical desirability of the Santa Clarita Valley, which has tremendous freeway access and close proximity to many parts of Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley.

– Michael Aushenker

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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