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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Office of Light

Employees of property management and development firm Gelb Group spent years dreaming of more space to comfortably fit their 17 co-workers. Rickey Gelb, founder and managing general partner, had his own dreams of owning an office building in Woodland Hills’ Warner Center. Both realized their dreams this year. In January, Gelb bought 6200 Canoga Ave. and in April, moved his staff into a new 8,300-square-foot home – a space more than double the size of the firm’s prior Encino location. Rickey’s wife, Robbi Gelb, a partner and design coordinator with the firm, and their daughter Lisa Gelb, vice president of leasing, designed the new office with several priorities. First, each administrative employee gets an office – a perk that disappeared as staff doubled in size at the old location. “We were all crammed in,” Lisa Gelb said. “We started taking space in closets by taking off the closet doors. Mayra Lopez (accounts payable specialist) was under the staircase.” To convey openness, brightness and spaciousness – also a priority – the pair chose glass for all inside-facing office doors and walls so the interior seems twice as big. White walls, white tubing and piping in the ceiling and gray hardwood floors complete a modern, quasi-industrial feel. “This (the glass) was so people who didn’t have windows – those in interior offices – would be able to have window views (through perimeter offices’ windows) and have it still be filled with natural light and brightness,” Lisa Gelb explained. Creating common areas was also important – work areas, a lounge area with cushy couches, sofas and a flat screen, and a full kitchen and dining table. Cooking lunch there every work day is the work of Sal Correa, former chef at Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.’s Hilton Woodland Hills/Los Angeles hotel. Staff pays only $5 a meal. While every employee with an office could choose their own office furniture, it all had to match. “My big thing was that everybody had to have the same color of furniture because it’s all glass and when you look at it, we wanted it to be coordinated,” Lisa Gelb said. In the new office, the Gelbs get a conference room again – the one in the prior location was converted to offices. Gelb Group has leased two office suites on its floor to other tenants and intends to lease out the rest. One of the other suites mimics the Gelbs’ offices because the tenant liked Lisa and Robbi’s design so much, he redid the concept himself, Lisa Gelb said. The firm spent “a lot of money” on the project – but wouldn’t disclose how much – because as property managers, they felt their headquarters needed extra pizzazz, Lisa Gelb noted. “We wanted people to walk into the office and go, ‘Wow!’” she said.

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