Move over Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach. El Segundo, California is quickly becoming the tech and creative hub of Southern California. Over the last five years, what was once a nucleus for Aerospace business – with residents like Northrop TRW, Aerospace Corp and Hughes Aerospace housed in densely packed buildings and dusty industrial warehouses – has morphed into a bastion of converted structures boasting high bow trussed ceilings, generous glass lines and large polished concrete floorplates. Such a rebirth has attracted notable tech companies like UBER, Just Fab and Amazon who are looking to hire beach communities’ millennials and older talent while investing in some of L.A.’s most stylish, modern office space.
Developers who previously shied away from investing in this market have now descended upon the sleepy town affectionately called “Mayberry” in search of properties to convert.
Enter Cal Poly alumni Chris Strickfaden (Business Finance ‘86), commercial investor and real estate broker for Newmark Knight Frank; Russell Shubin (Architecture ‘85), architect and founder of renowned architecture firm Shubin Donaldson; and Erik Good (Natural Resources Management) from development firm Everwest. The three alums recently collaborated to successfully repurpose and reintroduce an old Boeing property in one of the state’s hottest real estate markets.
The project began in June 2017, when Strickfaden approached Erik Good about a property that had been occupied by Boeing since 1968. At 46,000 square feet, the building did not initially look like an opportune investment. Boeing had used it extensively over the years and, while they kept up with general maintenance, it had become well-worn and antiquated. The property owners decided to sell, and so Strickfaden and the Newmark team set out to show potential buyers that this property could be not only renovated, but repurposed as well. After several months of negotiating, Everwest outlasted 20 other buyers. Erik Good said, “When Chris and Newmark brought us this opportunity we immediately fell in love with the bones of the old industrial building and felt we could really make a special redevelopment here.”
Once under contract, Everwest started interviewing several architects. Shubin Donaldson came in as one of the foremost experts on both tenant improvement design and asset conversion. “Before it became the industry standard, we built a reputation as a ‘go-to architect’ in the technology marketplace. We got our start representing tenant users looking to reinvent their workspace,” Shubin said. “This project is an extension of that philosophy. Working with Chris, who I met through mutual friend Kal Benuska (Architectural Engineering ’85 now a Partner at John Martin and Associates) at Cal Poly, has been a great experience and we are proud of this redesign.”
Strickfaden, an investor in the project as well as the commercial broker on leasing and sales, has thoroughly enjoyed working with fellow alumni. “This has been as rewarding a process as any in my 30 years in real estate. Russell and his partner took an old, antiquated industrial property and created a truly remarkable, state of the art building that is flexible for multiple tenants – or a single user – and has been lauded within the market. Everwest saw the potential and stuck with a very challenging redevelopment. When leasing is complete, we look forward to bringing this project full circle by taking it to market for its investors.”
The project exemplifies the versatility of Cal Poly alumni as well as their ability to tackle cross-disciplinary projects. Further, it showcases the alumni network’s strength and interconnectedness. Good, Shubin and Strickfaden’s collaboration embodies the central Cal Poly tenets of effective communication, practical knowledge and positive community change.
The three alums recently celebrated the project’s completion together at an open house held April 18th. Pictured below, see before and after photos of the property.