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July 14, 2024
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Inside the Spruce Goose Hangar


By Allen Wolfsheimer

Here’s a shot of how the interior of the former Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose hangar looks today. The structure is part of The Ratkovich Company’s (TRC) Hercules Campus at Playa Vista, a 28-acre, 530k sf office and studio campus in the southeastern part of the 1,000+ acre Playa Vista community on Los Angeles’ Westside.

The Hercules Campus consists of eleven nationally registered historic landmark buildings which were home to Howard Hughes and includes the hangar from 1943 (above and below) in which Hughes built the massive H-4 Hercules seaplane, better known as the “Spruce Goose”. The plane was built out of wood and was intended to carry up to 750 soldiers across the ocean during World War II, however, the war ended before the plane was completed.

The buildings at Hercules had been left to waste for over 20 years prior to Ratkovich acquiring the complex in late 2010, in a venture with with Penwood Real Estate Investment Management, for around $32 mil. Ratkovich has since spent $50 mil converting the buildings into a creative office campus that preserved the buildings’ bow truss ceilings and operable windows, among other historic architectural elements.

The campus, which boasts six parking spaces per 1,000 square feet, has been landscaped with beautifully planned California native plants, and is filled with unique open and shared spaces. The conversion earned the Hercules Campus a 2014 Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award.

The renovated project is now home to a 41k sf, state-of-the-art facility for YouTube (above), which is owned by Google. Other fairly recent tenant signings at the campus include 72andSunny and Konami (below).

In recent years, the 319k sf Spruce Goose hangar, which is over 700 feet long and seven stories tall, had been used as soundstage space by television and movie production companies. We understand that the structure is currently being renovated for Google, which also recently spent $120 mil on the adjacent, 12-acre site on the north side of the hangar. That land, which was purchased from Lincoln Property Company and ASB, is zoned for up to 900k sf of additional space.

The Ratkovich Company is led by veteran real estate developer Wayne Ratkovitch, who’s responsible for a number of acclaimed adaptive re-use and historical renovation projects in the Los Angeles area over the years. These include the Wiltern Theater, the Pellissier Building, the Oviatt Building and Chapman Market in Los Angeles; The Alhambra in Alhambra; and the Alex Theater in Glendale; among others.

Photos: The Foto Finisher.

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