WeWork leases six floors in downtown L.A.'s Fine Arts Building

WeWork, a shared-office service, leases space in downtown L.A.'s historic Fine Arts Building

WeWork, a shared-office service for budding entrepreneurs, has agreed to open a large outpost in one of the best-known historic buildings in downtown Los Angeles.

The New York company leased 44,500 square feet on more than six floors in the Fine Arts Building, a richly embellished 1920s office tower at 811 W. 7th St.

WeWork’s 15-year lease is set to begin next month, said Veronica Mainetti, president of landlord Sorgente Group of America Corp. WeWork will pay $34 per square foot per year in rent, she said.

This will be the second Los Angeles location for WeWork, which leased space in Hollywood in 2011. Its offices are an updated version of executive suites, in which tenants share workstations and such amenities as kitchens, conference rooms, coffee bars and private phone booths,

“What we are creating is a networking community,” WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann said when the Hollywood lease was signed. “We are the world’s first physical social network.”

Hollywood is already a hotbed for start-up tech and entertainment companies, but downtown L.A. is only more recently building its appeal beyond its traditional corporate business base.

“A lot of young successful companies are looking at the area with a completely different perspective than they did even five years ago,” Mainetti said. “There is just so much going on.”

The Fine Arts Building is now almost fully leased, she said. The 12-story structure was designed by Los Angeles architects Albert R. Walker and Percy A. Eisen, who also created such well-known structures as the Oviatt Building downtown, the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills and the El Cortez Hotel in San Diego.

The design reflected an era when sculpture was integrated into architecture as a way of expressing the meaning and purpose of a building, according to USC archives. The builders hoped to attract tenants in arts-related fields.

In the lobby is a vast assortment of tiles by Pasadena artist Ernest A. Batchelder, a leading figure of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century, and a mural by popular theater muralist Anthony Heinsbergen.

Sorgente specializes in acquiring and upgrading noteworthy historic properties. Its holdings include the Art Deco-style Clock Tower office building in downtown Santa Monica and the 1902 skyscraper Flatiron Building on 5th Avenue in New York.

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