A vast office park in Warner Center — the white-collar business hub of the San Fernando Valley — has sold for an estimated $80 million to investors who see it as central to an evolving and increasingly dense commercial and residential community.
Emerging from ranch land along the Ventura Freeway in Woodland Hills, Warner Center has grown to be one of L.A.’s largest urban developments. Conceived in the mid-1900s as a downtown for the Valley, the area is now a sprawling complex of office parks, high-rises, apartments and shopping centers.
Today, as the automobile is losing some of its luster with urbanites, city planners envision a more pedestrian-friendly environment with thousands more residents and workers.
And the new owners of Warner Center Corporate Park expect to be part of the action as the area grows even larger and matures. The 12 low-rise buildings on 26 acres and another office property nearby were acquired by Adler Realty Investments Inc., a national real estate firm headquartered in the park, and LLJ Ventures.
“It has a really nice campus-style feel with trees and surface parking; a little unique for Warner Center,” said the real estate firm’s president, Michael Adler. “It’s for people who don’t want to be in a high-rise environment.”
Warner Center was created on land once owned by Hollywood titan Harry Warner of Warner Bros. Studios.
Much of Warner Center, including the signature blue high-rises dominating its skyline, was built in the 1980s, when planners bragged that it would become the Valley’s version of Century City. Today, Warner Center has nearly 6.7 million square feet of offices, about two-thirds the total at Century City.
Warner Center has continued to grow with new apartment and retail projects completed in recent years, and more are on the way.
“It’s the central business district of the Valley, and the economy there is very diversified,” said real estate broker Kevin Shannon of CBRE Group Inc., who helped arrange the office park sale by Equity Office Properties Inc.
The value of the deal was not disclosed, but experts familiar with the Valley market valued it at $80 million.
Tenants at Warner Center Corporate Park, at Burbank Boulevard and De Soto Avenue, include insurance company Allstate Corp., the Girl Scouts and SD Entertainment, Shannon said.
The property is zoned for additional commercial and multifamily residential development, but Adler will keep operating the office park as it is for the time being, he said.
Los Angeles planning officials recently endorsed a proposal to allow the addition of more than 37 million square feet of business and residential buildings to Warner Center by 2035. The creation of such density could address critics’ assertions that Warner Center is too beholden to the automobile.
“In the 1980s it was considered the height of fashion to drive everywhere — to work, to restaurants, to go to the bathroom,” land use consultant Christopher Leinberger of the Brookings Institution said. “What the market wants now is walkable urban space.”
Most of the newer projects in Warner Center are more pedestrian friendly, Adler said, such as apartment complexes that front on the sidewalk instead of a parking lot and have shops and restaurants on the ground floor.