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First Foundation Renews Irvine Lease

Deal Comes Amid Overhaul At Lakeshore Office Complex

First Foundation Inc. is holding true on its promise to maintain its Orange County operations following its headquarters move last year to the Dallas area.

The company (Nasdaq: FFWM), previously the third largest bank based in Orange County, has renewed its 72,427-square-foot lease at its former headquarters space at the Lakeshore office campus in Irvine.

First Foundation operates its bank and wealth management services out of the Irvine office, which is now home to executives and administrative individuals associated with First Foundation Bank and First Foundation Advisors.

Chief Executive Scott Kavanaugh made the move to Dallas last year along with the headquarters move, though he did not require employees to relocate with him.

OC Importance

Atlas Capital Advisors brokered the Irvine renewal lease; the Los Angeles-based firm also brokered the company’s deal in Dallas.

While the bank “realized the benefit of relocating its headquarters to Texas, they also understood that Orange County was a strategically important market,” Atlas Managing Principal Serge Vishmid said. “After touring and evaluating numerous office buildings in Orange County, it was decided that staying in their current location was the best option.”

The landlord, Sentre, was represented by Cushman & Wakefield’s Rick Kaplan and Robert Lambert.

Renewal leases have dominated Orange County’s top office deals this year, as employers continue to rethink their space needs. Four of the top five office deals signed this year were renewals; First Foundation’s move marks the fifth largest renewal signed during that time frame.

Back to Irvine

First Foundation’s local office is at 18101 Von Karman Ave., one of three office buildings at the Lakeshore complex, which also counts two retail buildings.

The campus has been undergoing an overhaul in recent years, with renovations, new office tenants and retail options added as part of the property’s push to attract employees and customers amid a slow office market.

Life Time Inc. last year inked a 90,000-square-foot lease to take over the former 24 Hour Fitness site at the complex, while local restaurants Bosscat Kitchen & Libations and Ten Asian Bistro opened locations at the site over the last month (see story, page 29).
Lakeshore’s office buildings are home to a mix of tenants, including one building largely used by WeWork and the local operations of Cushman & Wakefield.

Texas Leverage

“The Dallas metroplex is an area that is attracting a lot of businesses,” Kavanaugh told the Business Journal in February 2021, after the company announced its headquarters relocation.

“When we looked at how we can geographically expand, we kept going back to Dallas where there are great growth opportunities.”

In Texas, First Foundation has been expanding its trust department and loan production, noting the region’s hot multifamily scene.

“When you look at the number of banks in Texas, it’s second only to Illinois,” he said last year. “Our stock price has appreciated in the past year. That might give us a little more leverage to offer a stock price that has a little more kick to it.”

Florida on Tap

The bank reported second-quarter 2022 earnings last month that beat analysts’ expectations. It posted revenue of $95.2 million for the quarter ending June 2022, up 32% from the year-ago quarter.

First Foundation, which counted a market cap of $1.2 billion as of last week, also has its eyes on the Florida multifamily space. It expanded its wealth management and trust offering into the state last quarter, and continued its integration of First Florida Integrity Bank, which it acquired at the end of last year.

“Specifically in Florida, we’re gaining good traction,” the CEO said. “We’re seeing significant pipeline growth on a relative basis out of Florida. So strong demand for that.”

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