Even though Los Angeles’ office market faces an uncertain future due to the slowing economy, signs seem to suggest that West L.A. could weather the storm.
For starters, Apple and Google still plan to open new offices in the area — even as much of Big Tech is scaling back their physical footprints nationwide. Earlier this month, Apple's plans to build 536,000 square feet of office space and production space went before the Culver City Planning Commission. The Culver Crossings campus is expected to break ground in early 2023, with an anticipated move-in date of 2026.
“The West L.A. office market is very different from the rest of the county in that it has an abundance of very cool, architecturally distinct real estate that is very attractive to the creatives”,” wrote CBRE’s Vice Chairman Jeffrey Pion in an email. “While many of the tech companies are downsizing in other parts of the country, we are not yet certain how much of that anticipated downsizing will occur in this market but believe the long term outlook for West Los Angeles is very good.”
In addition, a Google spokesperson confirmed to dot.LA that Google has leased the former Westside Pavilion shopping complex in West L.A. and plans to move in sometime in 2023. The company has yet to decide which job functions or divisions will be located in the new West L.A. campus. And Amazon signed a deal to rent a 200,000-square-foot space at the Water Garden this summer as part of a greater Southern California expansion, even as it halted plans to build other offices nationwide.
Nonetheless, the state of L.A.’s office space market remains uncertain as companies also scramble to cut costs due to the slowing economy. J.P. Morgan Asset Management this week put up its 1.4 million square foot Santa Monica office campus for sale — which includes tenants like Amazon and Sony Inc., reported the Commercial Observer.
Still, according to a third-quarter report from CBRE, West L.A.’s office vacancy rate is at 14.5% — roughly four points lower than the average in Greater Los Angeles. “[...] Several tech, media, and entertainment companies leased space this quarter, emphasizing the prevalence of entertainment and technology in Los Angeles and West L.A.,” wrote the authors of the report.
This is all to say that after two years of remote work and hybrid offices, 2022 could be ushering in a vibe shift as more companies reverted to traditional in-office work environments. Nearly 50% of company leaders said they were planning to require workers to return to the office full-time in the next year, according to a Microsoft survey from March. While a sluggish economy has forced some companies to make cuts to their workforce and close offices — many also appear to be staying put or even expanding their corporate real estate portfolios.
The potential shift to in-office work could be further bolstered by the current economic downturn, according to Matthew E. Kahn, Provost Professor of Economics at USC. In an email to dot.LA, Kahn wrote, “During a tech recession, management has the upper-hand in determining the real pay of workers and ordering workers to work on-site — 5 days a week — is a type of pay cut.”
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