Irvine-based luxury hybrid automaker Fisker Automotive Inc. is moving its growing headquarters to Anaheim.
Fisker recently signed a 10-year lease for a 156,135-square-foot office building on East La Palma Avenue, near the Riverside (91) Freeway and Imperial (90) Highway.
The lease is a big jump in space for Fisker, which now operates out of a handful of smaller offices in Irvine near Jamboree Road and Barranca Parkway.
The automaker has about 150 local employees with plans to double in size this year.
The move is a coup for Anaheim, which lands one of the county’s most watched startups.
Fisker has raised $320 million from private investors and $528.7 million in low-interest loans from the Energy Department for development of luxury cars powered by rechargeable batteries with backup gas engines.
Many see the company as the county’s top prospect for an initial public offering this year.
Fisker’s lease for its two-story, 29,000-square-foot Irvine headquarters is set to expire this year, according to real estate brokerages.
Improvements are under way at the Anaheim building with a move expected by the end of March, a company spokesman said.
The building is expected to be used for office, design and exhibit space for Fisker’s much-hyped first car, the Karma sedan.
The Karma is expected to start production in March and sell for about $100,000.
The Anaheim building, at 5515 E. La Palma, is near some upscale auto dealerships, including Land Rover Jaguar Anaheim Hills and a used auto and service center for Mercedes-Benz of Anaheim, which has its main dealership a few miles away.
Fisker’s not expected to use the building for auto sales, according to brokers from the Irvine office of Cushman and Wakefield Inc., which worked on the lease.
The company has enlisted more than 30 dealers across the country to sell its cars, including Irvine-based Shelly Automotive Group.
Founders Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler are expected to work from the Anaheim building.
The site also won’t house any auto production.
The Karma is set to be built in a 3.2 million-square-foot Delaware plant previously used by General Motors Co. Fisker bought the plant for $20 million last year.
Initial batches of Fisker’s cars have been produced by Finnish custom automaker Valmet Automotive OY.
Cushman & Wakefield’s Jeff Chiate, Rick Ellison and Todd Martens represented Fisker and the building’s owner, Newport Beach-based real estate investor Greenlaw Partners, in the lease.
The deal’s the latest sign of an improving real estate market, said Chiate, an executive director at the brokerage.
The office Fisker’s moving into recently changed hands at a steep discount to peak-market prices.
Greenlaw bought the then-empty building in late 2010 as part of a partnership with New York-based Westbrook Partners LLC and Chicago’s Walton Street Capital LLC.
They bought the Anaheim building in a lender-driven sale for less than $10 million, according to records.
The building’s prior owner, Asset Management Consultants, paid close to $30 million for the property in 2006.
Greenlaw and its partners have bought a number of local properties together since 2009, including a pair of office towers in Irvine that were acquired in lender-driven sales.