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May 21, 2018
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NationBuilder Leases 55k sf Office Space at Biltmore Court in Downtown Los Angeles


In an interesting lease from downtown LA, NationBuilder signed a 10-year lease for 54.8k sf of space in Biltmore Court. The property, located at 420 S. Grand Ave, is part of the iconic Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles.

NationBuilder, a locally based technology company specializing in community building software, will occupy the entire second floor of the historic building, which stretches from Grand Ave to Olive Street and overlooks Pershing Square. Renovations will begin immediately to convert the floor— part of which has not been occupied for several decades— into creative office space.

We’re told by CBRE Research that this is the largest lease executed in the history of the Biltmore and the largest office lease ever by a local technology start-up in Downtown Los Angeles. CBRE’s Andrew Tashjian represented the landlord, WHB Biltmore LLC, in the transaction. NationBuilder was repped by Dennis Smith and Griffin Farriss of Travers Realty. The deal value was not disclosed.

NationBuilder currently has 120 employees and offers a software platform to organize and grow communities for a common purpose. This will be the company’s third office move in DTLA, having started in the CEO’s apartment in 2009.

“NationBuilder is a local, home-grown tech company fully invested in, and loyal to, the community where it was founded,” said Tashijian. “They’ve been bursting at the seams, and are ready to grow into a cutting-edge, collaborative, creative space which matches their personality as a company vested in community innovation. This lease is representative of the overall growth and fundamental changes we’re seeing in Downtown LA.”

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles is perhaps best known for its place in Hollywood and pop culture. In 1927, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences was founded at a banquet in the Crystal Ballroom and rumor has it that the Oscar statue was sketched on a Biltmore napkin. Opened in 1923, the property was the largest hotel west of Chicago at the time.

Throughout the years, more than 300 movies and television shows have been filmed at the property, such as Mad Men, Ghostbusters, Wedding Crashers, Entourage and Spider-Man. Many historic events have been held there as well, including John F. Kennedy’s acceptance of the Democratic Nomination in 1960.

The thick steel and concrete-framed structure was built with Spanish-Italian Renaissance Revival and Beaux art styles and inhabits half of the city block. The interiors are decorated with frescos and murals, carved marble fountains and columns, crystal chandeliers, imported embroidered tapestries and draperies, and immense wood-beam ceilings.

Originally only a hotel, the previous owners built a 24-story office tower in the late 1980s and re-purposed what is now the Biltmore Court into traditional office space. In 2000, Millennium Hotels and Resorts acquired the property and since then has made a significant investment into preservation of the hotel. Tashjian represented the landlord in 10 new transactions over the last 12 months at the Biltmore Court and Tower and is currently in negotiations for more than 75k sf of office space with prospective tenants.

With its location between the Historic Core and the Central Business District, the site has recently seen an influx of new bars, restaurants and luxury residential developments. More than 600 new upscale housing units are planned for the site at the corner of 5th St and Olive St. The corner of 5th St and Grand Ave is home to One Bunker Hill, one of Downtown’s newest, popular lunch spots. Also, Nasty Gal, a local fashion company on the same block, made headlines a year ago when it leased approximately 50k sf of creative space in a building on the same block.

Wolcott Architecture has been selected by NationBuilder as the architect for the creative renovations, which will include a mix of open, collaborative space, exposed ceilings, historic red brick, glass conference rooms and an outdoor walkway and lounge area overlooking Pershing Square. Renovations will commence immediately and the company will move into the new space in November 2014.

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