Snapchat Expands into Sunset Park

May 17, 2016
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Snapchat has finally outgrown Venice. The $16 billion photo-sharing app, which began in a Stanford dorm room, is leasing 79,000 square feet of office space at Santa Monica Airport.

The Santa Monica City Council approved the five-year lease at its meeting this week. Snapchat will take over space now occupied by VW/Audi, plus some space that was occupied by a law firm. The city expects the company to start moving in in June or July.

While Snapchat has faced some resistance in Venice, where some see it as a driver of gentrification, neighbors in Santa Monica welcomed the firm. The community has been lobbying to reduce flights at the airport and eventually shut it down, so many are glad to see any tenant that is not a private jet operator.

“Snapchat is good — Snapchat is smart,” said Jonathan Stein, president of Sunset Park Anti-Airport. The airport, he said, “is this gigantic center that Silicon Beach hasn’t discovered yet.”

The real estate listing describes the property as a “one-of-a-kind creative space” with concrete floors, high ceilings, sweeping views of the mountains and the ocean and direct access to the airport runway. Snapchat will pay the city $3 million per year for the space. The five-year lease comes with an option for a five-year extension.

Last year, Snapchat signed a 10-year lease for 47,000 square feet of office space in Venice, at Venice Boulevard and Abbot Kinney. The company is growing quickly, fueled by more than $1 billion in private funding.

Snapchat expects to have 300 employees at the Santa Monica site, according to a city staff report. The firm is also leasing 133 parking spaces, which some residents worried would not be sufficient. Some council members suggested that the company explore bike sharing or shuttles to the Expo Line. One resident raised concerns that the move would exacerbate traffic.

The lease was first reported by the Santa Monica Mirror. Snapchat did not respond to a request for comment.

Story by Gene Maddauss for Variety Magazine. See story here: http://variety.com/2016/biz/news/snapchat-santa-monica-airport-1201774302/