Warner Music talks about their new West Coast offices in Downtown Los Angeles.
“We said: ‘Hey, guys, why not the Arts District? Why not downtown?’” said Jonah Sonnenborn, head of real estate for Access Industries, the holding company controlled by billionaire investor Leonard Blavatnik that acquired Warner Music in 2011.
Sonnenborn said he noticed similarities between the Arts District and reemerging neighborhoods of Manhattan, such as the Meatpacking District, where property values have shot up in recent decades. In choosing the Ford Factory, Warner Music passed on sites in Santa Monica, Hollywood and Playa Vista.
“When you walk around the Arts District you get the same hip, cool vibe where people want to live, work and play,” he said. “Warner wanted to take a leadership position in this neighborhood.”
Warner Music moved in as a tenant last month, and its parent company Access recently exercised its option to buy the Ford Factory and its new garage for $195 million, according to property experts who know about the sale.
Sonnenborn wouldn’t discuss the price but confirmed that the New York company bought the former auto plant from San Francisco developer Shorenstein, which went all out renovating the old manufacturing plant.
The complex is home to several labels: Warner Bros. Records, Warner/Chappell, Atlantic, Elektra, Rhino, WEA, and ADA. Within the building they retain separate identities in offices designed by New York architecture firm Rockwell Group that showcase the history and styles of the different labels.
Atlantic’s offices, for example, are perhaps the most elegant with subdued lighting and plush furniture. On a recent morning, the crescendo of the Spinners’ 1973 hit “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” filled the room with crisp sound as visitors entered.
The label offices surround Center Stage, a two-tier, 250-seat live performance space for showcasing company artists. There are soundproof “writers’ rooms” complete with guitars and pianos where artists can create music, as well as a commissary with Warner-blue chairs featuring the company logo, which was also recently painted on a large old water tower on the roof.