The Jerde Partnership, one of Los Angeles' best-known architecture firms, will move its headquarters from the Venice boardwalk to downtown as rising rents and traffic congestion speed its departure from the Westside.
Jerde has had offices on the offbeat beachside pedestrian pathway for three decades, but its lease was about to expire and the search for another area office was daunting.
"The Westside has gotten so expensive and the traffic is just horrible," said Paul Martinkovic, chief financial officer. "Rents have just skyrocketed."
Martinkovic did not disclose Jerde's rent, but a recent report by real estate brokerage CBRE Group Inc. showed average asking rent on the Westside was nearly $5 per square foot per month compared with $3.47 a foot downtown. Average rent in Santa Monica has topped $6 a foot.
In recent years, Venice in particular has become congested due to the growth of Snap Inc., the parent of popular social-media app Snapchat.
Jerde will move in February to the former headquarters of Southern California Edison Co., a 13-story, Art Deco-style landmark completed on Bunker Hill in 1931 now known as the CalEdison Building.
"We liked the architectural style and historic elements of the building," Martinkovic said. "It fit our brand as who we are as creators."
Jerde's designs include the Bellagio Las Vegas resort and outdoor shopping centers Santa Monica Place and Universal CityWalk. It was the design architect for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
The firm will move more than 70 workers to a full floor — about 21,000 square feet — in the CalEdison Building. Moving downtown will ease commuting burdens for many of its employees, Martinkovic said, and probably make it easier to find new ones.
Potential employees from outside Southern California have been put off by the high cost of housing on the Westside and the difficulty commuting in and out of gentrifying Venice, he said.
"We've lost a lot of good talent because of that," Martinkovic said. "People get sticker shock."
The Jerde lease "bodes well" for downtown's office market in its competition for tenants with the Westside and other neighborhoods, said Christopher Rising, landlord of the CalEdison.
Rising Realty Partners and its financial partners bought the CalEdison, at 601 W. 5th St., last year after finishing renovations on the PacMutual, another early 20th century downtown office building.
Rising is also renovating another historic Art Deco office building, the former Title Insurance and Trust building on Spring Street.