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Sunday, Jul 21, 2024

47-Acre Fix-Up

A Canadian company is buying the former Rocketdyne property in the west San Fernando Valley for about $150 million. Triple Five Group Ltd. in Edmonton, Alberta, is a conglomerate involved in real estate development. It purchased the 47-acre property to give it a presence on the West Coast and to take advantage of all the development A Canadian company is buying the former Rocketdyne property in the west San Fernando Valley for about $150 million. Triple Five Group Ltd. in Edmonton, Alberta, is a conglomerate involved in real estate development. It purchased the 47-acre property to give it a presence on the West Coast and to take advantage of all the development going on in the Warner Center. Reuben Benhaghnazar of Reuben Realty in Los Angeles represents the Ghermezian family, owners of Triple Five, in the deal that will finalize in the next couple of months. “They have really gone hard and now are in the final stages,” Benhaghnazar said. Attempts to reach a representative of Triple Five to confirm that Benhaghnazar and Reuben Realty were representing the company were not successful. Mall mentality Rocketdyne had operated out of the property on Canoga Avenue between Victory Boulevard and Vanowen Street for decades until rocket engine manufacturing was consolidated just a few years ago in the company’s Chatsworth facility on DeSoto Avenue near Nordhoff Street. Demolition on the former manufacturing plant began in 2016 and took about a year to complete, leaving the parcel vacant. In 2012, when GenCorp purchased Rocketdyne from then-parent United Technologies Corp., the Stamford, Conn.-based aerospace and defense company held onto the Canoga Park property. GenCorp later changed its name to Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., highlighting the importance of its San Fernando Valley subsidiary. In 2014, United Technologies hired Boston Global Investors to design a $3 billion project for the property with retail, a hotel, 1.2 million square feet of office space and more than 10,000 parking places. That project later fell through. Triple Five owns the Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minn., the largest indoor shopping center in the country. It also owns and operates West Edmonton Mall, in Alberta, a tourism, entertainment and retail center with 5.3 million square feet that is the largest in North America. It is currently constructing American Dream, an entertainment, leisure and shopping experience in Bergen County, New Jersey. Additionally, the company is involved in banking, oil, gas, mining, engineering, food franchising, truck manufacturing, nuclear energy engineering, industrial manufacturing, technology and biotech. Brad Rosenheim, a land use consultant with Rosenheim & Associates in Woodland Hills, said that given other projects planned for the Warner Center area, the existing retail market and the direction that retail is going, a mixed-use project of housing and office would likely end up on the Rocketdyne property. “I wouldn’t necessarily see another regional shopping center there,” Rosenheim said. Among the projects under construction or planned for the area are Warner Place, a 379-unit luxury mixed use apartment and retail complex on Oxnard Street; a low-rise condo project on the corner at 6800 Variel Ave.; five live, work and play properties totaling about 1,400 residential units located mere blocks from one another, with completion dates in 2019 and 2020; and Westfield Group’s Promenade 2035 plan to create a $1.5 billion mixed-use complex on the site of the Promenade mall with residential units, retail, offices, two hotels and a 320,000-square-foot entertainment and sports center. Best use? The property is strategically located adjacent to Westfield Group’s Westfield Topanga shopping center on the other side of Owensmouth Avenue. There is one shopping center across Victory and another across Canoga. Large office buildings take up space kitty corner to the former rocket engine maker on the southeast corner of Victory and Canoga. Benhaghnazar, the real estate broker, said that nothing is for sure what Triple Five will do with the land once it takes possession. The company’s projects in Minnesota and Canada show that it is not doing malls in the strict sense of the word anymore but lifestyle centers instead, he said. “You have the Grove and Disney World together with apartments,” Benhaghnazar explained. “It is entertainment and lifestyle centers.” The Rocketdyne property is one of the largest pieces of vacant land available in the Warner Center if not in the city of Los Angeles. “You cannot find (47 acres) these days at least in an urban area, maybe up in the hills but that comes with its own set of issues,” Rosenheim said. Jake Flynn, spokesman for Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, whose district includes the Rocketdyne property, said that the councilman’s office had two meeting with Triple Five, one a year ago and the second just about a month ago. Flynn described the meetings as informational only. But in the past few years, once Rocketdyne moved off the property, the councilman’s office had been privy to other projects proposed for the site, none of which turned out to be real. One of the ideas floated to the councilman’s office was for a permanent Cirque Du Soleil-type show on the property, Flynn said. “It has been a 47-acre whale as it were in which we have heard from developers over the years this is going to be built there or that is going to be built there,” he added. But Triple Five seems to be different from those other developers. While Flynn was not told details of the company’s plans once it buys the property, it appears to offer a better chance of realizing a project than past proposals, Flynn said. Once plans are submitted to the city, the office will make sure that community stakeholders such as neighborhood councils and homeowners associations get time with Triple Five. “That is very important to us but especially with this one because it has the potential to have serious ramifications,” Flynn said.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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