In yet another sign of Downtown LA’s ongoing resurgence, companies once apt to locate their regional headquarters in outlying satellite cities are moving back to the city center, a phenomenon known as “urban consolidation.” Attracted by new amenities and entertainment options in the area not to mention its accessibility by mass transit, companies are ditching the office park in favor of iconic high-rises in the downtown core.
The well publicized relocation of global architecture giant Gensler from Santa Monica to City National Plaza in February was a major win for the city; however it’s not the only company to make the move. This month global insurance firm Zurich Financial Services Ltd. announced that it will be relocating from its current headquarters on Brand Blvd. in Glendale to 44,000 square feet of space in the Cesar Pelli-designed 777 Figueroa tower.
According to the LA Business Journal and sources close to the deal, the company made the jump downtown to take advantage of its “superior mass transit system” and to join the growing club of insurance firms in the immediate area, including AIG, which has offices in the same building and the Aon Group.
Aside from insurance giants, smaller creative companies are also looking at downtown in a new way. This month, director Michael Bay moved his Institute for Enhanced Perceptual Development from Venice to 10,000 square feet of space in the Pershing Square Building directly adjacent to the Metro Red & Purple line subway stop. The company produces advertising and branded entertainment for several big name clients including Victoria’s Secret.
I’m hopeful that the relocation of these companies is the beginning of a new trend. As the region’s mass transit network expands with the help of Measure R and hopefully America Fast Forward, downtown will only become more attractive to employers and employees alike due to one key quality: Access. As the hub of Amtrak California, Metrolink, the Metro Red & Purple Lines, the Blue Line, the Gold Line and the upcoming Expo line, downtown is the definitive nexus of mass transit in the entire region and in Southern California. Also, with its ever expanding dining and nightlife opportunities, downtown is a fun place to play at the end of a long work day, especially when you don’t have to drive home. – Lawrence Aldava