Chatsworth Firm Signs Lease for $23 Million

Times Staff Writer

A computer company in Chatsworth has signed a $23-million lease for what appears to be the second-biggest block of commercial real estate ever rented in the San Fernando Valley, it was announced Wednesday.

Symbolics Inc., which makes artificial intelligence systems, will abandon 95,000 square feet in four buildings in Chatsworth to consolidate its operations in 228,000 square feet of new space at the northwest corner of Canoga Avenue and Plummer Street.

The company will occupy the entire Chatsworth Technology Center, a pair of two-story buildings that will be connected by a 40,000-square-foot structure if the developer wins necessary government approvals. Symbolics has an option to lease the planned addition.

Minoru Tonai, Symbolics' vice president in charge of Western operations, said that his company will move around August and that, within a year, its payroll in Chatsworth should swell from 235 to 300. More than half of the space, which is being leased for 10 years, will be devoted to manufacturing, he said.

In square footage, the size of the Symbolics deal is surpassed only by Texaco's lease of 580,000 square feet at 10 Universal Plaza in Universal City, real estate brokers said. The dollar value of that deal, signed in 1984, was not disclosed, but it far exceeded $23 million, said Joseph Papo, Texaco's regional manager for corporate real estate.

Great Western Financial signed a 30-year, $30-million lease for a high-technology building on Oakdale Avenue in Chatsworth about four months ago, but that was for 100,000 square feet.

The Symbolics lease was negotiated with Terra Development of Santa Monica, which began trying to lease the buildings early last summer, said Mel Goldstein, one of two Cushman & Wakefield leasing agents handling the transaction.

Publicly held Symbolics is based in Cambridge, Mass., but its largest facility is in Chatsworth, where it manufactures a high-powered computer that uses a proprietary computer language useful in computer research as well as in speeding up programming.

Its customers include universities, auto makers, aerospace companies and the federal government, Tonai said.

Symbolics was founded in Cambridge largely by researchers associated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Artificial intelligence refers to the computer process that simulates human thinking.

Construction of the buildings Symbolics will occupy is not complete. The second floor in each building now is a mezzanine that will be extended.

Officials of Terra Development were unavailable for comment.

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