Long Beach Needs More Creative Office Space

March 26, 2012 § 2 Comments

We occasionally invite guests to contribute to our blog. This week, Toliver Morris – considered by many as the Long Beach Office Expert – has kindly shared his perspective on the need for more creative office space in Long Beach, CA. He and his family reside within the city, and he cares greatly about the community. Toliver can be contacted or followed via his informative website/blog at www.LongBeachOffice.net.

Cie Studios, Long Beach (Gensler, courtesy of Toliver Morris.)

As a commercial broker who focuses on helping companies with their office needs in Long Beach and surrounding areas, the question I’m asked most often is: “Is there any really cool, creative, loft-type space?”. Unfortunately, the answer too often is “no” or “very little”. The vast majority of office space in Long Beach (even in cool, old buildings) is boring, generic, uninspired, tired, “vanilla” space – blegh!

A relatively historic city for the West Coast, Long Beach could (and should) have an abundance of creative/tech space. Even traditional companies prefer interesting, cool office space over hum-drum vanilla, but creative companies absolutely require it. Creatives prefer to office in urban, safe, pedestrian environments with character and history, as well as numerous amenities. If executives and employees of those creative companies can live nearby, either in affordable urban or dynamic suburban enclaves, even better. Long Beach is the perfect place.

Long Beach office space is some of the least expensive ocean front office space on the entire West Coast; one quarter to half the price of Santa Monica or Newport Center. If Long Beach properly branded itself and helped landlords offer cool, creative office options, Downtown Long Beach could quickly become a hotbed for creative companies. The results would benefit everyone; employment would rise, collaborative synergy would increase, the local creative employee pool would deepen, Downtown would become more vibrant, Downtown retailers would prosper, and real estate values across the board would rise.

We’re seeing signs of new creative move-ins beginning to happen; small Internet and design firms are springing up all around Long Beach. Many are 2-4 person firms that have outgrown the garage. Some have advanced to the next level and are beginning to hire more employees and reap the fruits of their success.

Some have really grown and find Long Beach the perfect place to attract and retain talented employees. An example is Cie Studios, makers of the on-line game “Car Town” among other things. Cie Studios could have gone anywhere when their company’s success exploded, but they chose to office in Long Beach – and are so glad they did. They have a relatively inexpensive, cool, creative office space (their conference room doors are jet fuselage, the reception desk a jet engine), and they have fantastic ocean views in the heart of Downtown’s urban, amenity base. I’m told they have a line of talent banging down their door for jobs, as they can draw employees from Los Angeles to Orange County and have virtually no competition. Currently at 60 employees and counting, the only restraint on their company’s growth is their imagination.

Speaking of imagination, imagine the following: What if Long Beach became the first place Southern California creatives thought of when they needed office space; and what if when they arrived to view the possibilities, they found numerous spaces that were cool and interesting and catered to creative companies, all located in a dynamic, urban community of other creative companies… what if?

Practical steps: 1.) Create a City/DLBA sponsored group/task force of professionals who can identify spaces and landlords and show them how to, quickly and inexpensively, transform dull boring spaces into cool, creative spaces, and 2.) promote those opportunities and Long Beach’s merits as the perfect city for creative companies to those companies within a 30 mile radius…If we build it (and promote it), they will come.

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