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LOS ANGELES-Equity Office has unveiled plans for a $200-million Silver LEED-certified office project, with the possibility of multifamily too, that will represent the final phase of class A office space at its 70-acre Howard Hughes Center. The development will add two buildings totaling 500,000 sf of office space to the Hughes Center, which is already home to 2.6 million sf of office and retail space.

Equity, which is an affiliate of the Blackstone Group, expects to break ground in December on the first of the two 250,000-sf office buildings, at 5901 Center Dr. The second will be at 5900 Center Dr. and is scheduled for groundbreaking in early 2008.

Two proposed multifamily projects will follow, but the developer has not decided whether they will be for-sale or rental units, or other details of the projects. In any case, the plans “will add two new 250,000-sf office buildings to a very constrained market,” notes principal Hunt Barnett of Los Angeles-based Madison Partners, leasing agent for the commercial buildings.

Barnett points out that the new Equity Office projects will develop the final four parcels of the entire Howard Hughes Center, which began 23 years ago. He says the new office buildings will be designed for “large tenants looking for freeway signage exposure” to the more than half-million cars that travel daily by Howard Hughes Center on the San Diego Freeway.

Frank Campbell, senior vice president of leasing for Equity Office, says the company anticipates that the 5901 and 5900 Center Dr. buildings will appeal as regional or corporate headquarters in a variety of industries, among them entertainment companies, professional firms and financial services companies. Campbell adds that part of the appeal of the Hughes Center is the existing 2.6 million sf of development, which includes 1.4 million sf of office space in six buildings, 250,000 sf of retail, 90,000 sf of medical and a 37,000-sf Spectrum Health Club.

Campbell notes that the retail portion of the Hughes Center, within walking distance of the office space, features the 17-screen Bridge Cinema, plus restaurants and retailers including Callender’s Grill, On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina, Islands, Johnny Rockets, Kabuki Japanese Restaurant, Starbucks, Borders Books and Music and Nordstrom Rack. Howard Hughes Center also includes an outdoor common area with two sand volleyball courts.

The new office buildings are being designed by Gensler. Rob Jernigan, a principal at the firm, comments that, “Because of the size of the floor plates, we’ve been able to create two of everything, allowing a large tenant (100,000 sf or more) to take control of a portion of the lobby and elevator bank.”

Jernigan compares the design flexibility to that of 2000 Avenue of the Stars in Century City, where the design provided tenant CAA with its own lobby identity and elevator bank. He adds that 5901 Center Dr. is being designed with a host of LEED elements, such as its all-glass northern façade to reflect the cars driving by and a southwest façade designed to help offset the afternoon sun via ribboned windows that limit the amount of direct sunlight reaching interior spaces.

The sunshades of the windows will limit the amount of direct sunlight that can penetrate interior spaces and at the same time provide ample daylight to meet LEED ratings. In addition, 5901 Center Dr. will feature LEED-certified elements including a lobby with bamboo-clad walls (sustainable material), bike storage and showers for tenants.

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