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New UTC office tower

Construction underway at One La Jolla Center

The Irvine Co.'s 306,000-square-foot One La Jolla Center at 4655 Executive Drive in the University Towne Centre is now under construction, and is slated for completion on a fast track by July of next year.

The building, for which an LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver designation is sought, is a design of the famed architectural firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (I.M. Pei co-founded the firm) of New York City.

“Partnering with a world-class firm such as Pei Cobb Freed is part of our long-term commitment to San Diego and reflects the prestige of the UTC market," said Doug Holte, Irvine Co. Office Properties president.

This is the same firm that designed the controversial pyramid structure at the Louvre in Paris. Other Pei Cobb works include Boston's John Hancock Tower and Chicago's Hyatt Center.

The 15-story office tower that had previously been dubbed La Jolla Center III has 22,797-square-foot floor plates.

According to the company's website, the project calls for a five-story parking structure, cafe, fitness center, conference center and canopy-shaded outdoor areas that will be WiFi-enabled.

Suffolk-Roel Construction is the general contractor. The construction firm is reportedly in the process of dropping Roel from its name.

Irvine Co.'s 15-story office tower, designed by architectural firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, is under construction at 4655 Executive Drive in University Towne Centre. Courtesy image

The ground floor has 18 1/2-foot-tall ceilings. The project will have a penthouse floor with an 11-foot-tall ceiling.

Some of the stylistic elements are expected to include Italian travertine marble flooring, eucalyptus wood paneling and architectural aluminum with curtain walls.

The building will powered by two 4,000-amp electrical bus systems. The chilled and hot water variable flow setup for the HVAC system will be in place for maximum efficiency.

The Irvine Co. said on its website that the new building will have the advantage of having a future Superloop stop that will offer shuttle service to the University Towne Centre Transit Center.

While speculative office projects can be fraught with peril if tenants don't materialize, Tom Wilcox, a Colliers International senior vice president and office specialist, said The Irvine Co. appears to have its project ideally timed.

What's more, as the owner of about 3.5 million square feet in the immediate area, The Irvine Co. is also in a unique position to continue to dominate the market.

While the La Jolla Center I and II developments are in UTC, perhaps The Irvine Co.'s best known office property in the community is the 800,000-square-foot Plaza at La Jolla Village development that, like the other Irvine Co. UTC properties, is virtually full.

Wilcox said even if The Irvine Co. didn't have a commanding presence in the market, it would make sense to at least be starting to construct an office tower in UTC now.

"The vacancy in UTC was sub 9 percent at the end of the year," Wilcox said.

Wilcox said even with both LPL Financial (which moved into new 400,000-square-foot space at La Jolla Commons) and Lockheed Martin having vacated hundreds of thousands of square feet in UTC, he doesn't expect the vacancy rate to change much. This is because the losses are offset by occupancy gains in other parts of UTC.

“We are encouraged by the growth of the SD regional economy and are seeing strong demand for high-performance workspace in UTC, which is San Diego’s premier masterplanned live/work/play environment," Holte said.

Holte said the occupancy in the company's UTC properties exceeds 90 percent.

"We are hearing from employers that they are seeking office workspace that conveniently links with time-efficient retail services, dining and living options to help recruit and retain the best talent. UTC offers all of that," Holte added.

The Irvine Co. owns about 6.8 million square feet of office space in San Diego County. The developer/investor owns buildings in such other submarkets as Sorrento Mesa, Del Mar Heights, Mission Valley and downtown San Diego.

In downtown San Diego, The Irvine Cos. ownership includes such trophy assets as One America Plaza, Symphony Towers and Wells Fargo Plaza, among others.

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1 UserComments
Richard Thompson 8:20am April 8, 2014

Shame the Irvine company feels the need to hire certain union contractors in lieu of non-union. I guess they must be scared of "bannering." Allegedly!