Google Eyes Giant Offices in Historic Los Angeles Airplane Hangar
From The Wall Street Journal, by Eliot Brown, August 26, 2014:
A massive former airplane hangar just north of Los Angeles International Airport was home to construction of the world’s largest airplane in the 1940s and then hosted filming for movies including “Independence Day” and “Transformers.”
Soon it could launch a new life: corporate offices of Google Inc.
According to multiple people familiar with leasing discussions, Google is eyeing an expansion of its Los Angeles facilities into the sprawling facility, a giant edifice built by Howard Hughes in 1943.
Today, the building is owned real estate developer Ratkovich Co. The company has converted the rest of the former Hughes Aircraft headquarters into modern offices filled with tech and media firms—including Google-owned YouTube—and it wants a big tenant for the hangar and attached buildings as well.
Google is in early discussions with Ratkovich about leasing more than 300,000 square feet to take nearly all the facility, the people familiar with the discussions said. The space would add to Google’s existing offices in the area, they said. Those include a Venice, Calif., outpost in an iconic Frank Gehry-designed office with giant binoculars out front.
The hangar was held for years by Howard Hughes’s Hughes Aircraft and was used to build the giant “Spruce Goose” aircraft. The company eventually sold its airfield and headquarters in the 1980s to make way for development. The hangar, known as Building 15, has since been used for some filming movies on occasion, but Ratkovich has been hoping to find an office tenant ever since the company bought the former Hughes headquarters in 2010.
It hasn’t been easy, in part because of its design. It is rather atypical—to say the least—for office space. The hangar has two bays that are 750-feet long—more than twice the length of a football field—and its ceiling is more than seven stories high.
In an interview, Ratkovich chief executive Wayne Ratkovich declined to comment on Google, but said generally that leasing at the overall property “was faster than we imagined, faster than we expected.”
The property is in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, which long struggled to attract companies. But in the past three years numerous tech, media and advertising companies have flocked to the area. That—in turn—has attracted other similar companies to look at moving there.
Interestingly, the area has far more of a suburban feel than neighborhoods in many cities that attract a similar type of tenant like the Union Square area of New York or South of Market in San Francisco, as Playa Vista lacks neighborhood coffee shops and instead has surface parking and large expanses of open space.
While tech companies with young workers have generally avoided suburban locations, other than Silicon Valley, the landlords in Playa Vista have gone to great efforts to boost the amenities aimed at young workers. For instance, Ratkovich has added surfboard racks and barbeque pits, and food trucks pull up to the area’s offices for lunch.