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Quail Street Offices in Newport Beach Get Creative

Orange County Business Journal

By Mark Mueller

Bixby Land Co. didn’t have to look too far to find its first tenant for a creative-office redevelopment it recently finished in Newport Beach.

The real estate investment and development company, one of the state’s most active creative-office redevelopment companies over the past few years, moved its headquarters last month to its 1501 Quail St. building, a 46,000-square-foot office about a mile from John Wayne Airport.

Bixby is taking up about 10,000 square feet on the ground floor of the building, one of four creative-office projects it has announced in Orange County in the past two years.

The company bought the two-story office last year for a reported $9.2 million and has put millions more into the property, which has been renamed Avalon.

Features include exposed high ceilings, polished concrete floors, full-height sliding windows, hi-tech lighting, and what the company calls “contemporary design accents” throughout.

There are also numerous indoor and outdoor informal meeting spaces for Avalon’s tenants, including a second-floor outdoor deck. Bixby worked with San Francisco architect Rapt Studio to redesign the office.

On a recent tour of the building, Bixby employees played with dogs in their offices, and shared bikes were parked outside while the lobby had music that wouldn’t be out of place at a spa.

“We didn’t develop Avalon with the mindset of moving into the building, but as the project evolved, it became clear that this was an ideal environment for our company,” said Bill Halford, Bixby’s chief executive.

The company has made big profits on other creative-office projects it undertook, leased out, and subsequently sold. In June, it sold a 250,000-square-foot office in San Jose for $96 million; it had paid $29.5 million for the property in 2012.

Halford said he’s not sure if he’ll put Avalon on the market for sale, though, now that the company is occupying space there.

The rest of the building was available for lease as of last month. The building is represented by Jay Nugent and Greg Puccinelli at JLL.

The company had been about a mile and a half away at the 2211 Michelson tower in Irvine, a few blocks from the airport. That space has since been leased to real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield.