Amazon Studios and a ground-floor retail center, including the celebrity and influencer-favorite Erewhon, anchor the 122,000-square-foot complex
By Dolores Quintana
Hackman Capital Partners has announced that The Culver Steps development has been fully leased despite the economic downturn and the pandemic as reported by Commercial Observer. It is an amazing turnaround since when Hackman bought the property in 2017, it was empty.
It has taken over five years and $150 million, but with a tenant roster that includes Amazon Studios and a retail area that includes the rare specialty grocery store Erewhon, they are doing well. The entire complex is made up of 122,000-square-foot of space and has ten other tenants. It is named after the staircase that guests can use to climb to a 40,000 square-foot pavilion on the second story of the open space or sit to listen to music or snack. It sits opposite the Culver Hotel and Culver Studios. Harry Culver, the man for whom the city is named, used to have his offices at the Culver Hotel and sold the land that became Culver Studios to the original owners of that studio over 100 years ago.
The city’s motto is also a saying of Harry Culver’s namely “All roads lead to Culver City,”
Culver Studios has been owned by some of the most famous names in Hollywood like Cecil B. DeMille, Howard Hughes, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. It was also part of Sony Pictures at one time. Many famous films were made there including “A Few Good Men”, “Citizen Kane” and “Gone With the Wind”. In later years, the TV show, “Arrested Development.” was also produced at Culver.
Culver Studios was purchased by HCP in 2014 and the company expanded the property and added 628,750 square feet of office space and then leased everything including the seven soundstages to Amazon Studios.
But HCP didn’t stop there, they went on to engage Kennedy Wilson Brokerage’s agents Lee Shapiro and Christine Deschaine who leased spaces in the Culver Steps retail areas to Afuri Ramen + Dumpling, CorePower Yoga, Formula Fig, Mendocino Farms, Philz Coffee, Pop’s Bagels, Salt & Straw, Sephora and Yunomi Handroll at 9300 Culver Boulevard. Erewhon took the final spot. At the top of the complex Amazon Studios has 80,000 supplementary square feet of office space.
Lee Shapiro said, as quoted by Commercial Observer, “We’re at the center of the core of downtown Culver City. The success of the core as a submarket has grown with Ivy Station, at Platform, the shopping mall/creative office space, with Apple announcing that it’s purchasing additional land. So we see this as a continuation of growth for the overall downtown form.”
Deutsche Bank backed the project financially by lending $56.2 million in October 2017 and additional funds were lent by Aareal Capital in October 2020 to the tune of $90 million. Kennedy Wilson Brokerage told Commercial Observer that the Culver Steps represents one of the most stable retail properties and shopping centers in Culver City and is a “major milestone” in the growth of Downtown Culver City. The success and the property have drawn such entertainment companies as Amazon Studios, Apple, HBO and Warner Media to Culver City and they have committed to multi-year rental agreements.
HCP understood the needs of retailers and carefully curated the tenants and the spaces at Culver Steps. Mike Racine of HCP noted that they had actually modified the original plans of Culver Steps to accommodate the needs of Erewhon and that there are still four of the eleven tenants in the shopping center who are still working on their spaces and will open later in the year.
Lee Shapiro also stated, per a statement quoted by Commerical Observer, “The success of this project is a combination of Hackman Capital’s vision for the property, a great location in a desirable market, and experienced commercial agents driving value for our client. Our team received more than 150 offers for the then-available 42,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Operators want very much to be here.” Christine Deschaine added that, “destination retail is the name of the game.”