[IMGCAP(1)]LOS ANGELES-A new office project that debuted in Downtown L.A. last week illustrates a demand that is unusual if not unique for a market like Los Angeles with its fashion and entertainment industries. The new project is a 53,000-sf converted garment industry building that the developers have turned into 39 suites ranging from 796 sf to 1,587 sf.

The building at 915 S. Mateo St. is designed to capitalize on the demand for such space from companies in fields like the entertainment and film industries, fashion and design. The space is being marketed for $1.25 per sf to $2 per sf per month on a triple-net basis, a relative bargain compared to rates in some other markets.

Seth Polen, a principal in 915 South Mateo Properties LP, tells GlobeSt.com that the developers have already leased seven of the suites and have interest from a broad range of prospective tenants, both geographically and in terms of industry type. Creative businesses from as far away as North Hollywood and Culver City are looking at the space, Polen says. And one, he adds, is thinking of renting up to six suites to create a larger office.

In addition to being one of the partners of 915 South Mateo, Polen is a multifamily specialist with Los Angeles-based Ramsey-Shilling Co., a brokerage that has leased more than 50,000 sf of office space to entertainment industry tenants at another Downtown L.A. location, the former Unocal headquarters that is now L.A. Center Studios. In the case of the 915 S. San Mateo development, Polen is acting as his own leasing agent for the project, which he describes as a longstanding dream of his. The project was designed by the Santa Monica, CA-based architectural firm of Pugh and Scarpa.

Spec suites like Polen’s are something of a trend in the Downtown area, which was once the domain primarily of office towers, the garment industry and some old-time distribution space. His building, in fact, originally was a Sears & Roebuck Co. distribution center before it was used by the garment industry.

In another Downtown conversion, Los Angeles Center Studios has packaged the former Unocal headquarters into a 20-acre, 450,000-sf independent studio and entertainment campus for creative office space as well as full-service studios for television, film and commercial production.

[IMGCAP(2)]Some of the newest offices at L.A. Center Studios are the five spec suites that have been designed to target media and entertainment-related companies. Four of those five suites have been created by Wolcott Architecture Interiors. Roy Huebner, a senior account executive at WAI, says the firm “was selected to help transform the iconic headquarters of Unocal into a desirable creative destination for media-related business, the engine that drives the L.A. economy.”

Wolcott has designed four flexible office suites ranging from 2,194 sf to 4,514 sf, “with highly creative companies in mind,” Huebner says. WAI is a 50-person firm based in Culver City, CA with a resume that lists 30 million sf of corporate interiors experience, including numerous entertainment industry clients.

Huebner points out that Wolcott’s spec suites on the studio lot have access to sound stages, practical sets, permanent screening rooms and commissary right on the premises. Tenants also benefit from complete control of Downtown city locations on the closed site, with no need to shut down streets or get city approval for filming.

Wolcott’s work at L.A. Center Studios also includes design of a 18,000-sf headquarters for Film L.A. as well as 18,000 sf of space for Reelz Channel, a cable television network. Huebner, whose career includes 20 years of facility experience at Disney Studios, says L.A. Center Studios offers real incentives for film and entertainment industry firms to stay at a time when many entertainment production companies are leaving Los Angeles because of incentives offered by cities in other parts of the country.

This so-called “runaway production” of films has been a big concern of Los Angeles city officials for some time. Huebner says that “unique incentives” like those of L.A. Center Studios help to keep production in the region.