Welcome to my 54th and final It is All About Jobs column. I started this piece several years ago to relate the importance of jobs to our economy and prosperity. Providing good jobs is essential if we are to keep up with the high cost of living in Los Angeles and California. I feel strongly that is where we need to keep our focus as we address challenges.
I will be retiring from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce at the end of December – ending 26 years of working to bring Hollywood back from a decades-long economic slump. Hollywood is now well-positioned for the future and has done its part to address the jobs issue. I am retiring feeling confident as to its future.
Hollywood has demonstrated more than virtually every other submarket in Los Angeles County how to achieve a jobs-housing balance. More than 800,000-sq.ft. of office space is under construction today along with 2,900 housing units. Most of the office space has been pre-leased by Netflix, which is definitely becoming a major player in the Hollywood market. The company recently leased 325,000-sq.ft. at Hudson Pacific’s Epic project and another 355,000-sq.ft. at Kilroy’s Academy on Vine development. This, coupled with previous leases, will bring Netflix to 1.1-million sq.ft. of office space in Hollywood when occupied.
To realize how significant this is, you need to understand that in 2015, Hollywood’s Class A office space totaled only 973,564-sq.ft. according to JLL. Netflix has leased more space than the entire inventory of office space we had available only four years ago. Our recent building boom in commercial office space has reestablished Hollywood as an important commercial center.
Netflix’s recent leases are huge wins for Hollywood. One local developer explained to me that leases this large create their own ecosystem. We can expect other firms that do business with Netflix will move in. We will see new restaurants and service businesses spring up, and we will see existing businesses benefit as well from the added customers. We are already seeing more pedestrians on the sidewalks and more energy and vitality in the neighborhood. And the residential projects that are under construction should have no problem finding occupants for their units. Hopefully, we will also finally begin to see major retailers seeking space in the Hollywood market.
It wasn’t that many years ago when we feared Hollywood’s commercial district was in danger of being lost. The City had approved an adaptive reuse ordinance which allowed property owners to convert outdated commercial buildings to residential uses. While the law had many positive benefits, we still lost about 200,000-sq.ft. of office space with no future space on the horizon. We were faced with the conundrum of not being able to attract class A tenants because we had no new class A office space, and we couldn’t attract new office developments because we couldn’t demonstrate there was a demand by tenants for office space in Hollywood.
Fortunately for Hollywood, three major developers – Hudson Pacific, Kilroy Realty and J.H.Snyder entered this market and all built new office buildings, despite our not having a track record. Their faith in Hollywood paid off. Hollywood has now proven itself as a viable office market. Its future as a commercial center is assured.
So, as I step off the stage, I feel very comfortable with how things have progressed to rebuild a viable commercial district in this historic community. I will be watching with great interest from the sidelines to see the progress that is made. Hollywood has a bright future today because of our success in bringing new jobs and development to the community. I wish my replacement as President & CEO, Rana Ghadban, the very best. I know she will take the Chamber and community to new heights. Hooray for Hollywood!!
Leron Gubler has been serving as the President and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for the past 26 years. He will be retiring at the end of the year. His last day will be December 27th. He can be contacted after that time via email [email protected]. His tenure since 1992 oversaw the great comeback story of Hollywood.