AwesomenessTV signs 90K sf lease at Santa Monica’s Pen Factory

AwesomenessTV CEO Brian Robbins and a rendering of the Pen Factory (credit: SOM)
AwesomenessTV CEO Brian Robbins and a rendering of the Pen Factory (credit: SOM)

AwesomenessTV, the teen-targeted video streaming company — majority owned by DreamWorks Animation — is putting down roots in Silicon Beach.

The growing firm, which makes short videos often featuring young-and-viral YouTube and Vine celebrities, just closed on a lease for roughly 90,000 square feet at Clarion Partners’ Pen Factory at 2701 Olympic Boulevard, The Real Deal has exclusively learned. The building will serve as the company’s headquarters, and will include office space and small production stages, sources said.

AwesomenessTV will take the entirety of one of the two buildings being constructed on the site. The other 140,000-square-foot building has yet to be leased. Clarion and third party developer Lincoln Property Company’s 222,000-square-foot adaptive reuse project, which is transforming the 1950s-era former Papermate factory into a creative office development, is expected to be completed in January 2017.

Rick Buckley and Owen Fileti of LA Realty Partners represented Clarion in the lease transaction, but did not respond to requests for comment. Gerry Porter and Matthew Miller at Cresa represented Awesomeness, but could not be reached. A representative of Clarion could not be reached. Awesomeness, similarly, did not respond.

Houston-based Hines previously owned the Pen Factory, and its plan for an almost 1 million-square-foot mixed-use development with 400 residential units was, at first, approved by the city of Santa Monica. However, anti-growth activists threatened a voter initiative to halt the project, dubbed the Bergamot Transit Village, and the Santa Monica City Council ultimately rescinded its approval in 2014 under pressure.

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Unable to develop its vision, Hines sold the property to Clarion. The firm hired prolific developer Lincoln Property and architecture firm  Skidmore Owings & Merrill. They hatched a plan much smaller in scale that used the bones of the original building. Thus, it didn’t need to go through the rigorous planning process.

Construction broke ground earlier this year. The developers are carving a central atrium into the original factory building, creating two separate structures, one of which Awesomeness will soon occupy.

This is a major expansion for Awesomeness, which was founded by TV producer Brian Robbins in 2012. It has been operating out of a small creative office building at 11821 Mississippi Avenue in West L.A. Going through the first phases of its growth spurt, it expanded into roughly six small spaces in several surrounding buildings, but its footprint never exceeded 50,000 square feet, sources said.

Awesomeness was ready to close on the Pen Factory deal months ago, sources said, but the deal was put on hold because Comcast — which now owns DreamWorks — had to approve it. Verizon and Hearst also own significant stakes in Awesomeness.

The young company was attracted to the ample parking, which is hard to come by on the Westside, sources said. Its new home will have the original Pen Factory’s warehouse vibes with high ceilings and an added floating mezzanine, with stairs and elevators that lead up to it. Each end of the building will be solid glass. The west end of the building will have AwesomenessTV signage, visually staking its claim in La La Land’s ever-changing entertainment landscape.