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Boardwalk’s Big Leap

Trammell Crow Co. has taken the wraps off the first large, speculative office project expected to break ground in the office market around John Wayne Airport in over seven years.

The Dallas-based company, one of the country’s largest commercial real estate developers, just unveiled its plans for the Boardwalk, a 545,000-square-foot office project on Jamboree Road that’s a half-mile south of the San Diego (405) Freeway.

Work on the two-building, nine-story project should begin by early next year, with construction slated for mid-2017, according to Thomas Bak, senior managing director for Trammell Crow’s Southern California operations.

Trammell Crow bought the 7.5-acre site for the project in April from General Investment Funds Real Estate Holding Co. in Chevy Chase, Md., for an undisclosed price. The site is near the Irvine campus of Parsippany, N.J.-based Allergan PLC.

Brokerage data put an estimated $27 million price tag on the land sale, which works out to about $3.6 million per acre.

There is no dedicated tenant announced for the project, although there’s been some preliminary interest from potential users, Bak said last week.

“This has been designed as a speculative project,” said Bak, who works out of the company’s Newport Beach office.

Trammell Crow is targeting users requiring at least 50,000 square feet of office space for the project, he said.

Technology, healthcare, and legal tenants are among some of the more likely occupants of the buildings.

The Boardwalk’s design incorporates some of the features becoming more prevalent in other new area office developments, including floor-to-ceiling glass, abundant tenant amenities, and a mix of indoor and outdoor meeting space that’s increasingly in demand by potential users.

The design—the brainchild of architecture firm Gensler (see related story on Hyundai Capital in Special Report, page 13)—offers a different spin on many of those features, however.

Most notably, the two nine-story buildings at the Boardwalk will be connected on alternating floors with indoor bridges and outdoor walkways.

Bridging the two buildings will allow the development to offer “amenity space unlike anything else in the market,” Trammell Crow officials said.

The use of the bridges and walkways also will allow up to 65,000 square feet of contiguous space on a single floor—something rare for an Orange County office, Bak said.

“We think that’s where the opportunity is,” he said.

“There are very few A-quality buildings with that amount” of contiguous space, said Bak.

Only two Irvine properties in the airport area have more than 50,000 square feet of contiguous space available, according to CoStar Group Inc. records.

Great Outdoors

Another notable feature of The Boardwalk is the size of its outdoor space.

Running 2 acres, the exterior area—to be used for relaxation, meetings and workspace—will be among the largest to date for an area office project.

Other plans on tap for the project include a rooftop patio, fitness center, concierge service, and about 5,000 square feet of restaurants and retail.

The Boardwalk’s two connected buildings will combine for 545,000 square feet, roughly the same size as The Michelson, the 20-story tower at the nearby Park Place mixed-use campus.

The Michelson was the largest office built during the last major round of office development in Orange County.

The Boardwalk aims to join the recently completed 520 Newport Center Drive tower in Newport Beach and the under-construction 200 Spectrum Center tower in Irvine—both built by the Irvine Company—as the only large speculative offices to move ahead in Orange County in the past few years.

Other Projects

Other airport-area projects expected to move ahead in the not-too-distant future include the Cornerstone creative-office campus in Tustin, as well as 17850 Von Karman Ave., a 242,000-square-foot building being headed up by Houston-based developer Hines Interests LP and Los Angeles-based private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management LP.

The Boardwalk is expected to be the first of those three airport-area office projects to get out of the ground.

“Being first helps,” Bak said.

The site of the Boardwalk campus is on the opposite side of Dupont Drive from the Jamboree Promenade Shopping Center. The land previously held an industrial building, which was razed several years ago.

“We think this project has the best location, and the best design,” Bak said. “We’re excited to be bringing something to the market that’s unique.”

Dean Chandler, Justin Hill, and Weston Chandler, brokers with the Newport Beach office of CBRE Group Inc., are handling leasing for the project.

Trammell Crow was acquired by Los Angeles-based CBRE in 2006 and operates as a subsidiary of the real estate brokerage.

Trammell Crow’s Matt Cramer is overseeing development of the project, while Chris Tipre is managing marketing for the developer.

A general contractor for The Boardwalk has not been selected yet.

Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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