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The Real Deal Los Angeles

A gander at Spruce Goose, the queen of creative conversions

As Google moves into its new Playa Vista home, the surrounding area could see prices skyrocket — even more than they already have
By Dennis Lynch | October 25, 2018 08:00AM

Photos of the refurbished, Google-branded Spruce Goose hangar emerged this fall.

Google’s endeavor to reinvent the cavernous Spruce Goose property, where Howard Hughes built the H-4 Hercules aircraft, is the queen of all creative conversions. The company is building a three-floor steel office building within the cavernous hangar, and with an expected buildout of 525,000 square feet, the new space will more than quadruple Google’s footprint in Los Angeles. It’s the company’s biggest foray into Playa Vista, a neighborhood that had once played third fiddle to Santa Monica and Venice during the growth of Silicon Beach. But ever since Google’s 2014 announcement that it was buying the huge swath of land in the 460-acre community master-planned by Brookfield Properties, the area has become one of the hot spots for tech companies in L.A., with tenants like Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft moving in over the last few years.

The Spruce Goose hangar gets its name from the aircraft it was built to house. It’s a playful and somewhat derogatory nickname the press gave to Hughes’ World War II-era creation: a massive, mostly wooden airplane built amid the wartime shortage of steel as a means to ferry troops and equipment across the Atlantic without fear of attack from German U-boats. While it only flew once, after the war, it was a marvel of engineering that still holds the record for the longest wingspan of any aircraft that ever flew — 320 feet. If the hangar was big enough to house the brainchild of one of the most ambitious figures of the 20th century, can it help a $762.5 billion giant reach new heights? As Google prepares to move into its massive new offices this fall, here’s a look at a few key facts and figures about the company and its L.A. spaces.

1978

The year that the concept of Playa Vista was born. Hughes’ Summa Corporation proposed a development on 1,087 acres, including office towers, homes, boat slips and a natural preserve. Amid prolonged resistance to the project from environmentalists, Summa sold the property in 1989. It sold again in 1997 to an investment group, which finally developed the property.

$500,000

What Howard Hughes paid in 1940 for the roughly 380 acres for Hughes Airport in what is now Playa Vista. That’s where he developed the Spruce Goose and other aircraft. The airport’s development literally laid the groundwork for local development — he rerouted the Centinela River, which flooded the area every spring.

$273M

The price that Japanese conglomerate ASO Group paid for the hangar in late 2016. While Google did buy the 12 acres surrounding the hanger for $120M, it leases the hangar itself from ASO Group. The company purchased the hangar from the Ratkovich Company and Penwood Real Estate Investment Management. 

$11M

The annual rent that Google pays ASO Group for the Spruce Goose hangar. That’s a hefty bill, but Google shouldn’t have any trouble making the rent. The company brought in $31.16 billion in the first quarter of this year alone, up 26 percent from last year’s $24.75 billion.

900,000 SF

The amount of office space Google is approved to develop on the 12 acres of land it owns surrounding the hangar, which itself is 319,000 square feet.

1.1M SF

The combined amount of office space two of the biggest tech firms, Google and Facebook, will be leasing in Los Angeles if Google builds out the Spruce Goose hangar to its capacity and Facebook closes a 260,000-square-foot deal at Tishman Speyer’s Brickyard campus in Playa Vista. Google also leases 100,000 square feet in Santa Monica, and Facebook leases 80,000 square feet in Northridge.

59

The number of companies with offices in the Campus at Playa Vista, the neighborhood’s main office component. At least 19 other companies lease elsewhere in Playa Vista outside the Campus. Electronic Arts leases at Rockwood Capital’s Water’s Edge campus and WeWork leases at Hudson Pacific Properties’ Landing building. 

82.3%

Increase in Playa Vista Class A office rents from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the second quarter of 2018, when rents were at a median of $5.47 per square foot per month.

42.8%

The average increase in price per square foot for condos in Playa Vista from the fourth quarter of 2014, when Google announced its 12-acre land purchase, to the third quarter of this year. At the end of 2014, condos sold for around $623 per square foot. Now, they’re selling for about $890 per square foot.

6,046

The total number of residential units that Playa Vista master planner Brookfield Residential has already built or plans to add to Playa Vista by 2020.