Chatsworth Boosts High-Tech Role : Two Major Projects Offer Space to Growing Companies

Chatsworth is taking a long stride down the road previously traveled by Silicon Valley, with good prospects of catching up with the San Francisco Peninsula area that has become almost the buzzword for high technology concentration.

Two projects, on opposite sides of Plummer Street at Canoga Avenue, will spur the western San Fernando Valley's progress by providing the sort of space that up-and-coming high-technology companies need at the stage of their development where they have outgrown backyard garages and empty warehouses.

They are the Chatsworth Tech Center, the first major project of Terra Development Corp. of Santa Monica, which has opened its first phase of two buildings, and Cabot, Cabot & Forbes' Chatsworth Technology Center, which broke ground in March for its first, four-building phase and expects initial occupancy in the fall. Together, they will be valued at more than $50 million.

John D. Montanaro, a principal of Terra Development, commented:

"Like Silicon Valley, people started their businesses in garages in this area, then saw the need for expansion, particularly of office space. Warehouses would no longer suffice. So they began converting and expanding into a host of area industrial facilities. Now, new conversion properties are drying up."

A flaw in that type of development was that diversity of ownership in such an industrial area made assemblage of land difficult and conversions of industrial structures to research-and-development uses occurred in a checkerboard way--"hit or miss," according to the other Terra Development principal, James L. Hasselbach.

The company hopes to change that by providing a total environment for such firms, he added.

The $20-million Terra Development project occupies 11.5 acres. Its first and now-open phase contains two research-and-development buildings of 92,650 and 72,450 square feet, with a third building planned as Phase 2.

The new buildings feature sandblasted concrete tilt-up exteriors with decorative two-story glass entries, complemented by trusses for a strong "high-tech" look. They are enhanced by a gray window system with tinted glass and wrap-around treatments at second-story office corners and red accents marking truss areas beneath the windows.

Both Phase 1 buildings are divisible; the larger contains 27,765 square feet of mezzanine space and the smaller, 23,985 square feet. Interiors are to be finished to tenants' requirements. The building have parking for 273 and 212 cars, respectively.

The master planner of the center and designer of the buildings is Hill-Pinckert Architects. The general contractor is Oltmans Construction Co. of Whittier. The sale of the site to Terra Development was negotiated by the Seeley Co. and the exclusive marketing agent is Cushman & Wakefield.

Across the street, Cabot, Cabot & Forbes' technology center is rising on its 23-acre site. The $25-million first phase will consist of four buildings of 40,000, 75,400, 77,000 and 105,290 square feet on 12 acres. The remaining 11 acres are being held for future building, either speculative or build-to-suit.

Hill-Pinckert is again the architect and Oltmans Construction the general contractor. The exclusive marketing agent is Grubb & Ellis.

Describing the basis of their commitment, Montanaro and Hasselbach said they are banking on the continuing growth of research-and-development companies in the area.

"Chatsworth's strong high-tech image is a major reason companies do not want to move out of the area when expanding. They are willing to pay more to stay put," Montanaro said, adding:

"Moreover, expansion of research-and-development firms is likely to continue in this area because of the substantial nesting characteristics of these concerns They simply want to be close to others in the field."

And Hasselbach made another point:

"Some so-called high-technology areas focus on one or two specialties in the field. This is not the case in Chatsworth where you find many elements of the industry, such as computer technology, laser technology, aerospace, telecommunications and magnetic memories--along with an expansion-within mentality. That's what makes Chatsworth special.

"As a result, the area is less likely to experience a drying up of venture capital."

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