Experian to Abandon Orange, Build Lush Costa Mesa Campus


Orange-based Experian Inc. said Monday that it plans to build a campus-style headquarters complex costing as much as $100 million on 19 acres of undeveloped property in Costa Mesa, about a mile east of South Coast Plaza.

The credit reporting giant acquired the land for $24.4 million after a two-year search.

The company, formerly a TRW Inc. information services unit, said it has outgrown its headquarters in Orange, where it has leased two 10-story buildings and two smaller facilities for more than two decades.

In addition, Experian’s 1,500 employees have been encountering more traffic and parking problems since the Block at Orange shopping center opened next to its offices.


The new 475,000-square-foot complex, on Anton Street near the junction of the San Diego and Costa Mesa freeways, will have four buildings, none more than five stories, as well as landscaped areas with streams. It is expected to be completed by 2002.

Edward Cook, a partner at McCarthy Cook & Co. in Irvine, which sold the land to Experian, said the new location in what is called South Coast Metro Center will be “exactly what modern employers are seeking for their workers,” with its gardens and fountains and close proximity to restaurants and a coffeehouse and health club planned for the center.

Orange city officials had hoped that Experian, Orange’s third largest employer, would move to another site in the city. But what the company was looking for apparently wasn’t available there.

“They also wanted the campus-style, more horizontal layout, and what is available around the Block is high-rise vertical,” said Linda Boone, the city’s director of redevelopment.

Mayor Joanne Coontz said the city does not anticipate having any trouble replacing the company.

“Corporations are waiting in line to come in,” Coontz said. “There is high, high demand for that area.”


The Staubach Co. in Irvine helped Experian look countywide to find a site.

“They had outgrown [the Orange] facility and could not expand properly. They wanted to grow,” said Sandy Kikerpill, a Staubach senior vice president.

South Coast Metro Center also will include a 50,000-square-foot 24-Hour Fitness sports facility, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Diedrich’s coffee, Quizno’s and Robek’s Juice. All are scheduled to open in August. In addition, a 200-room hotel is planned and negotiations are underway for another restaurant, Cook said.

More than two acres of the property have been set aside to create onramps and offramps to the San Diego Freeway at Anton Boulevard and Avenue of the Arts, he said.

By switching to a campus-style headquarters, Experian is the latest in a decade-long series of local corporations, such as Fluor Corp., ConAgra Grocery Products and AirTouch Cellular, to abandon the high-rise life.

“I think it’s really a sense of trying to induce, nurture and retain top-flight talent,” said Barry Gail, director at Cushman & Wakefield of California Inc. “Companies are looking to encourage a more casual atmosphere. It is a cultural as well as a business decision.”

Experian, a leading supplier of information about consumers, businesses, motor vehicles and property, employs 12,000 people around the world and has annual sales of about $1.5 billion.


The company is a subsidiary of Great Universal Stores PLC, a British retailing and financial services conglomerate.