In 1995, Adam Lilling, founder and managing partner of PLUS Capital, a venture advisory firm that helps talent invest in startups and build brands, moved into an office in Culver City, whose glory days as the home of MGM and RKO had been left behind. “The office we were in always had leaks, if it rained you had problems,” he recalls. “He just drove to work and got out of there. [Culver City] It was not a place where you wanted to stop and spend time. … My perception was that it was just a sleepy place and a warehouse. “
Fast forward to 2021: Amazon Studios, WarnerMedia, Apple and TikTok have occupied office space in the city for the past four years, joining Sony, which bought the former MGM studios in 1990. On October 8, Apple announced that it was increasing even more his presence in Culver City; is building two new connected facilities along Nacional and Venice boulevards in what will be a headquarters of more than 550,000 square feet for its teams throughout the region.
Lilling (who has lived in Culver City since 2008) can’t believe the changes he’s seen. “It is amazing what is happening here,” he says. Jeff Pion, vice president of powerful commercial real estate actor CBRE, agrees. Culver City, he says, is now “one of the content capitals of the world. [and] one of the most vibrant markets in Los Angeles. “
Colin Diaz, president and CEO of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, points to the development of the Hayden Tract area over the past decade as a turning point for the city. Once a crumbling light industrial district, the area has been transformed by architecture firms like Eric Owen Moss and development groups like Samitaur Constructs and Newmark into a state-of-the-art mixed-use business center for tech startups, ad agencies and design firms.
New demand for streaming content, the 2012 arrival of the light rail with Expo Line, a wealth of existing studio infrastructure, and a central location have worked in Culver’s favor. “It is the center of the donut in the sense that it is very close to West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Hollywood, Silver Lake and Manhattan Beach,” says Pion.
One of the largest owners is Hackman Capital Partners, which bought Culver Studios in 2014. It has leased most of the complex from Amazon while expanding it. Hackman has invested millions in the development of the adjacent The Culver Steps mixed-use development, which features 45,000 square feet of retail space and 80,000 square feet of office space (where Amazon has also leased), and in January spent $ 160 million to buy the Sony campus. Animation studios.
Other major developments include CBRE’s One Culver (renovated in 2017 by Gensler), where Apple has leased more than 150,000 square feet, and Lowe Enterprises’ mixed-use Ivy Station for $ 350 million, where WarnerMedia (including HBO) has leased space. Entertainment and technology companies are buying, too. In 2020, Apple bought an entire block of warehouses and offices for $ 162 million in partnership with Venice Pacific Investments. (Apple’s initial foray into Culver City was in 2014 when it moved its Beats by Dre division to offices there.)
In the second quarter of the year, requested rates for office space in Culver were $ 4.34 per square foot, 17 percent higher than in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, according to CBRE.
The influx of powerful players has brought in countless support companies racing to find office space in the area. “Many of these companies are peripheral to film or television and can work directly with the most important actors in the community. They have formed their own ecosystem here locally. “Diaz says.
As available space in Culver City shrinks, its renaissance is spreading to neighboring communities. Carmel Partners’ Cumulus District, a massive new mixed-use development, aims to link West Adams with Culver City. The project includes a 31-story residential tower and a 1-acre park.
CBRE Pion calls the city “a wonderful place to do business. It’s a small city, the city officials are responsive, they’re approachable, it’s a fantastic business environment. “
Other entertainment companies that have settled in Culver City include the video game company Scopely, which opened an office there in 2013 and has more than doubled the amount of space it rents since then. A Scopely spokesperson says on why it chose to put down roots in Culver City (it also has offices in Europe and Asia): “Each location has been chosen based on: where the world-class talents are located or want to relocate, be centralized located within of a city and appealing to a creative and innovative environment “.
The boom is undoubtedly increasing employment figures. Díaz estimates that the influx of the industry will bring between 7,500 and 9,500 jobs to the city. In April 2021, Apple alone announced that it planned to have 3,000 more employees in Culver City by 2026. As of 2019, Sony Pictures Entertainment is the city’s largest employer, with an estimated 3,000 people working there.
To ensure that residents benefit from the meteoric growth, the Chamber is launching a program called Hire Culver. “Our goal is to have a job board where residents can apply for positions a few weeks before opening to the general public,” says Díaz.
Yet not all of the city’s 40,000 residents are delighted with the pace of change. There are traffic concerns, which the City hopes to alleviate by increasing micro-transit options (i.e., small-scale, on-demand public transportation). And some locals fear their quaint town is losing its soul as high-priced condo buildings rise and the median home sales price hits a record $ 1.3 million in 2021.
The influx of entertainment jobs has also brought increasingly trendy restaurants and high-end retail stores, as in the 5-year Platform retail project. “[The residents] will still refer to things like Mayberry. Never mind. If everything stopped today, that will never come back, ”says Díaz. Recent restaurant openings include Michelin-star Chicago chef Danny Grant’s Etta, who just debuted at the new Shay Hotel, part of the Ivy Station development.
Producer Dave Ragsdale (Pink Opaque), who has lived in Culver City for seven years, compares the changes to what his old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cobble Hill went through in the early 2000s. “I know there have been some losses to the community and the character of Culver City, ”he says. “But we are very happy with the city center and with all the restaurants that are popping up.”
A version of this story first appeared in the October 6 issue of Newzpanda magazine. Click here for subscribe.