Google Purchases 12 Acres in Playa Vista


Google Inc. is making a bold move to expand in Southern California, the nation’s nexus of technology and entertainment.

The tech titan has spent nearly $120 million on 12 vacant acres next to a historic hangar where aviator Howard Hughes built his famous “Spruce Goose” airplane in the Playa Vista neighborhood near Marina del Rey. The land is zoned for nearly 900,000 square feet of commercial space that could house offices or studios, vastly more room than Google now occupies in a handful of buildings in Los Angeles County.

Google is also expected to lease the Hughes hangar built in 1943. The 319,000-square-foot building has recently housed soundstages for movie and television production.

“This is phenomenal news for the Westside and for the Los Angeles economy,” said City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the Playa Vista area. “It really makes and brands Playa Vista as the tech and innovation capital of Los Angeles.”

The Mountain View, Calif., company wouldn’t detail its plans. But if Google is to develop the land as zoned, the Playa Vista site and the Hughes hangar could be home to as many as 6,000 well-paid, highly educated workers. Internet firms such as Google commonly set aside about 200 square feet per employee.

Local entrepreneurs and investors say they’re excited about the possibilities that a stepped-up Google presence could bring.

More Google offices mean more quality engineers, many of whom may eventually launch their own ventures in Los Angeles, which in turn will lure more investors and more developers, said Paige Craig, a prolific angel investor who lives in Venice. That self-perpetuating cycle will boost the tech economy, he said.

“The real key to this is Google is going to attract talented people to come to L.A.,” Craig said.

The deal also underscores the region’s growing influence as a breeding ground for new forms of digital entertainment.

That’s especially important as the technology and entertainment sectors continue to converge. These days, companies such as Inc. are churning out original programming, celebrities are launching their own gaming apps, and Apple Inc. recently spent $3 billion to acquire Beats, which included its online music streaming service.

Playa Vista has become a major hub of innovation in recent years. At first, the neighborhood’s appeal largely stemmed from its location near major freeways, the Westside and Los Angeles International Airport. Now a vibrant community encompasses media companies, ad agencies, start-ups and established titans.

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