Bixby Land Co. is set to undertake its largest creative-office redevelopment project in Orange County to date at an industrial building in Tustin.
The Irvine-based real estate investor and developer recently completed the purchase of 15771 Red Hill Ave., a 79,756-square-foot building across the street from the Tustin Legacy development site.
Bixby paid $13.3 million, or about $167 per square foot, for the building, which CoStar Group Inc. data show as being largely empty.
The building previously served as the home of jewelry marker Cookie Lee Inc., which was acquired this year by local investors and now operates out of Irvine.
Bixby is planning to invest another $11.7 million on a redevelopment of the Tustin property, according to Chief Executive Bill Halford.
The building’s exterior will get new, larger windows, laser-cut metal screening, and a glass pavilion at its entrance, while the interior will be turned into creative-office space, with exposed, high-volume ceilings and polished concrete flooring.
A number of outdoor amenities that Bixby has found to be successful at its other creative projects in the state—including fire pits, dining areas and meeting spaces—are also planned for the building.
It will be expanded to 90,000 square feet upon completion of the redevelopment, which is expected to take about six months.
The new office is expected to hold either one or two tenants upon its reopening next year.
“The building has huge potential,” Halford said. “Large blocks of quality space are in short supply.”
The project architect for the Tustin office is Santa Monica-based Boto Design Architects Inc. The company has designed interiors for clients such as Yahoo, Adidas and Mossimo, according to Bixby.
The investor bought the building from an entity with ties to Irvine-based based manufacturer Flexible Metal Hose. The seller was represented by Mike Hartell of Voit Commercial, while Bixby represented itself.
The deal for the Tustin building is the third creative-office redevelopment project that Bixby has taken up in OC in the past year following deals for slightly smaller buildings in Irvine and Newport Beach.
Bixby’s first creative-office project in Irvine, a 45,000-square-foot building near the intersection of the San Diego (405) and Costa Mesa (55) freeways, was just completed in a multimillion-dollar overhaul.
The landlord said it is in final negotiations with a 30,000-square-foot tenant for the building, which is at 18231 W. McDurmott.
Redevelopment of the second local project—a 46,000-square-foot office near John Wayne Airport in Newport Beach, along Quail Street—is expected to wrap up work by next spring.
Bixby was an early adopter in California’s now-active creative-office redevelopment push, upgrading older, largely vacant office properties across the state with more contemporary layouts and looks, as well as plenty of employee amenities.
Company officials estimate that Bixby has invested more than $425 million to buy and redevelop creative-office projects in the Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, San Diego and OC over the past three years.
Bixby said it now has almost 700,000 square feet of projects in its development pipeline.
“There is a demonstrated need for this type of space,” Halford said.
Bixby is beginning to see more competition for that type of space here and in other California markets, and the company can look across the street from its Tustin project for one example.
Marketing is in the early stages for a 43-acre office project at the massive Tustin Legacy development site for a potential creative-office campus that could total nearly 500,000 square feet at its build-out.
The project, called Cornerstone at Tustin Legacy, would be near the intersection of Barranca Parkway and a planned extension of Armstrong Avenue, just a few blocks from Bixby’s new purchase.
Time Frame, Plans
A time frame for development beginning at Cornerstone has not been disclosed. Officials with the Newport Beach office of brokerage CBRE Group Inc. said this year that they would initially seek build-to-suit opportunities at the site, but that speculative development or partial spec development was not out of the question.