Office building models after boutique hotel

EL SEGUNDO, CA-Bixby Land Co. and Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers, LLC have initiated a joint venture to acquire a vacant, five-story office building here that will be dog-friendly and, it claims, filled with design elements more typical of a boutique hotel.

The new owners of the 112,695 square-foot building at 2101 El Segundo Blvd. plan to spend an estimated $10 million to revamp the structure, adding such features as lounge seating and custom music in the lobby, outdoor gathering areas with raised wood decking, and trellised gardens.

The exterior redesign will feature prominent horizontal wood slat panels that climb the full height of the building. In addition to a dog-friendly policy – which is touted as the first such initiative in the El Segundo market – tenants will be provided beach cruiser bicycles for use.

 “It’s a significant repositioning,” says Bill Halford, President/CEO of Bixby Land Co. “Both exterior and we’re gutting the interior.” Shubin + Donaldson Architects have been hired to design what’s being termed “a new urban work environment.”

The building was acquired from the Krausz Companies Inc. and was formerly fully-occupied by Raytheon, whose lease ended. Sale price was not revealed, but Halford said it was an all-cash deal. Cornerstone represents an institutional investor which declined to be named in the venture.

The joint venture will seek financing on the construction costs, Halford says. The deal is Bixby’s second investment in the South Bay in nine months, following acquisition of a 291,000 square-foot building in Torrance, CA in July, 2012.

Halford tells Globe St.com that changing tastes in work environments require a bold rethinking of office requirements. “You can’t have a lobby like grandma’s living room,” Halford says, adding that integration of outdoor space is key.

The inspiration for the El Segundo project are the work environments in Silicon Valley, where Bixby has a number of properties.

“A lot of the (El Segundo) thinking is shaped by the more progressive companies as to how they want a building, how they use space, and what’s important to them,” Halford says. “Certainly I would guess there’s some people that prefer a different kind of environment. But we think the trend is clear, that this is what people want.”

The El Segundo area, located just south of the Los Angeles airport and formerly known as a hub of the defense industry, has more recently been attracting media, Internet and advertising agencies. “I think it’s gotten a lot more discussion of late, when you see the growth of west L.A. sliding south to Playa del Rey,” says Halford. “Obviously, the residential environment in (nearby) Manhattan Beach is very desirable, and this is the market that supports that. If you’re moving south from west L.A., it’s more affordable than Playa.”