Airport Area in Van Nuys on Building Spurt

Times Staff Writer

The Van Nuys Airport area is arguably the best office location in the San Fernando Valley, but it suffers from an image problem.

Centrally located though it is, with good access to the San Diego, Ventura and Simi Valley freeways, in the middle of a sea of relatively affordable housing, the area lacks the glamour of Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks or Encino or Warner Center in Woodland Hills and Canoga Park.

But all this is changing, thanks in part to an aggressive land leasing program by the Los Angeles Department of Airports, which owns the 723-acre airport and well-located parcels of land around it.

The 200-room Best Western AirTel Plaza hotel at 7277 Valjean Ave. is leasing 2.2 acres of additional land for expansion to the north, according to John F. Malloy, the airport department's senior real estate officer.

Hotel Successful

The hotel, built on leased airport land, has been a success from the day it opened, filling a need for a business-oriented hotel right on the airport, he said.

The $4.5-million expansion plan--approved by the airport department and awaiting City Council authorization--calls for a five-story tower with 77 more rooms, a 4,000 square feet of meeting rooms and a fitness center, according to Jim Dunn, of the firm that developed AirTel Plaza.

Construction of the addition is expected to begin in July, with completion scheduled for September, 1988, he said.

Just north of the AirTel expansion parcel is a 5.8-acre site that is scheduled for development, Malloy said.

On Wednesday the Board of Airport Commissioners will hear proposals by Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, Westlake Village; Murdoch Development Co., Westwood, and Retlaw Enterprises Inc., Burbank, to develop the property for offices or a mixture of offices and hangars, Malloy added.

Home Improvement Center

On the northwest corner of the airport, at Balboa Place and Roscoe Boulevard, a seven-acre leased parcel currently occupied by a go-kart track will be the new site of a Home Depot home improvement center, he said. The track will be relocated to Hayvenhurst Place, north of Roscoe Boulevard.

A June completion is scheduled for another project built on leased airport land, the $5-million, 87,000-square-foot Sky Park Plaza at 16661 Roscoe Blvd.

A development of the Scofield Partnership of Beverly Hills and Encino, the single-story and mezzanine textured concrete and bronze solar-glass building replaces an old strip shopping center on the 4.1-acre site just east of Balboa Boulevard.

Lawrence N. Field and Morton Scolnick are the partners in Scofield Partnership. The architect is Togawa & Smith, Architects and Planners of Santa Monica; the general contractor is Breton Construction Inc., Irvine; leasing is being handled by Mike Krans, Irene Weber and Mike Zugsmith of Zugsmith & Associates Inc., 13103 Ventura Blvd., Studio City.

Convenient for Workers

The building has been designed for multiple uses, including showrooms, retail operations, warehousing, offices and light assembly, Krans said, adding that the location is convenient for workers who must rely on public transportation.

"It's also convenient to the San Diego, Simi Valley and Ventura freeways and the housing in the area ranges from affordable to upscale," Krans added.

Doug Sonderegger of the Sherman Oaks office of Coldwell Banker is equally bullish on the Van Nuys Airport area. His firm handles leasing for the Linpro Co.'s Valley Corporate Park, 16360 Roscoe Blvd., Van Nuys, a 155,000-square-foot development with about 90,000 square feet available.

One of the largest space users to move to the Linpro project was Panorama City-based Safeco Insurance, which leased 42,000 square feet.

Large Acquisition

Ron Kinder, director of marketing for Brentwood-based Linpro, said that he has "prospects" for a total of 390,000 square feet for the project, adding that he expects to have the office park fully leased by the end of 1987.

Perhaps the most spectacular airport-area transaction of all time was last year's $45-million acquisition by Trammell Crow Co. of the 44-acre Harmon International Business Campus on Balboa Boulevard at Napa Street in Northridge.

Bill Ripberger of Cushman & Wakefield's Woodland Hills office represented both Harman International, the seller, and Trammell Crow, the buyer. First National Bank of Chicago financed the transaction.

This renovation will consist of the upgrading of four existing office buildings totaling 132,560 square feet; the rehabbing of the 416,000-square-foot JBL loudspeaker manufacturing facility; the renewal of a 122,800-square-foot building occupied by Micom, and the construction of a new 160,000-square-foot building.

Allen K. Meredith, Trammell Crow's managing general partner, said that the project represents a total investment of $65 million and will benefit the entire San Fernando Valley by bringing older facilities up to contemporary standards.

New Office Building

Considerably smaller, but at the strategic gateway site of Sherman Way and Hayvenhurst Avenue is the $9-million, 53,000-square-foot Aviation Plaza office building under construction and scheduled for completion this summer.

Developed by Flyaway Partners Gil Epstein and James Orr, the building is directly across the airport runway, due west of AirTel Plaza. It is being constructed on leased airport land formerly occupied by the Skytrails Restaurant and will offer tie downs and runway access for its tenants.

Designed by the Nadel Partnership Inc., Santa Monica, the building will have 27,000 square feet on the first floor, 17,000 on the second and 9,000 on the third, according to James C. Nolan of the Sherman Oaks office of Grubb & Ellis, the leasing agents.

Sheryl Mazirow of Grubb & Ellis agreed with the other brokers interviewed for this story on the increasing importance of the airport area as an office center.

In addition to previously noted Safeco Insurance, companies new to the area include American Telephone & Telegraph, the mortgage division of Great Western Savings & Loan Assn. and the Los Angeles Teachers' Credit Union, she said.

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