eHarmony's Move From Santa Monica to Westwood
LABJ 11/3/14 http://labusinessjournal.com/free-trial-preview/
Playa Vista, Marina del Rey, El Segundo. The waterside office markets south of Silicon Beach have been touted as a lower-cost alternative to pricey Santa Monica and Venice. But lately another alternative has begun to emerge, luring technology, media and other creative tenants further inland: Westwood.
In the next week or so, Santa Monica online dating service eHarmony Inc. is expected to commit to move its headquarters east of the 405 freeway to Westwood. The company is negotiating a 50,000-square-foot lease for the penthouse and top three floors at Murdock Plaza, an 18-story red-brick office tower at 10900 Wilshire Blvd.
If the deal closes, eHarmony will join at least two other media and technology companies that made big moves in Westwood in the last couple of months. All have cited the area’s accessibility and affordability.“It’ll be much simpler for our employee base near the 405 to commute to work, and it’s a better setup in the building that we’re moving to,” said Armen Avedissian, eHarmony’s chief operating officer. “The pricing is much more attractive as well.”
Avedissian said the company conducted a search spanning a 10-mile radius from its Santa Monica office as it looked for more favorable rental rates and a better commute for employees. The company hopes to move to Westwood in mid-2015, shortly before its five-year sublease at the Colorado Center, 2401 Colorado Ave., expires.
Tishman Speyer, which acquired Murdock Plaza in August for nearly $125 million, is marketing space in the building for $4.45 a square foot a month, according to real estate data provider CoStar Group Inc. At that rate, a 10-year lease for 50,000 square feet would cost eHarmony about $26.7 million. Such a price would exceed average Class A asking rents in Westwood, which were $4.03 a square foot a month in the third quarter, according to data from Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. But prices in neighboring office markets were still higher. Average Class A asking rents were $4.49 a square foot a month in Santa Monica last quarter and $4.82 in Beverly Hills.
Word of the eHarmony deal comes on the heels of a lease signed by TV production company ThinkFactory Media last week for about 33,500 square feet at 1640 S. Sepulveda Blvd. That lease will expand ThinkFactory’s Westwood presence as it relocates from a smaller property nearby. That followed the September deal struck by Wi-Fi service provider Boingo Wireless Inc., which renewed its lease at 10960 Wilshire through 2020 and, at the same time, doubled its footprint in the Westwood area from about 25,000 square feet to nearly 52,000.
*Shared by Jeff Vertun