Confirmed: Google Will Take Over Gold's Gym in Venice, Plus 170,000 Square Feet of Surrounding Real Estate
Originally posted May 14 at 5:30 p.m.
Last week, the former owner of Gold's Gym in Venice leaked to Muscle Week that Google would be taking over the iconic old bodybuilder haven -- just one step in turning that whole area into a Mountain View-style Google compound.
And today, the owner of the Gold's Gym building at 360 Hampton Drive confirms to LA Weekly that come July 1, 2014, Google will indeed begin renting the space.
Venice real-estate giant Larry Field currently owns both Gold's and some of the buildings nearby, including a huge space at 300 Rose Avenue being rented out by production company Digital Domain. Field runs NSB Associates, a major local developer that "has been involved in the acquisition and development of more than $1 billion of real estate in Southern California."
Alexander Auerbach, a press officer for NSB Associates, tells us that Google will pick up the lease for all 31,500 square feet of Gold's -- positioned right across the street from Google's new Main Street digs with the giant binoculars out front.
"Google has taken over a total of about 200,000 square feet in that neighborhood," says Auerbach. The tech giant will be renting out "possibly three Digital Domain buildings," he says, along with TBWA\Chiat\Day's remaining offices.
(Auerbach says of ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day: "They were the people for whom Frank Gehry built the binoculars building. They still have a couple of buildings nearby.")
Google will begin renting the Gold's building in July 2014. But "the other leases have different expiration periods," says Auerbach.
The Gold's Gym on Hampton Drive has served as the hub of Venice's muscle-man legacy, led by the Governator himself, since the early '80s. Management has repeatedly denied that they will be kicked out of their longtime home -- but workout facilities tend to do that, so as not to lose any potential new customers who don't want to sign up for a gym on its way out.
Residents have also expressed concern over how a new Googleplex near Rose and Hampton would interact with the neighborhood. Muscle Week reported that Google had "grand designs on walling off the streets and creating a SoCal campus to rival its Mountain View 'university'."
Auerbach says that as a landlord, NSB Associates will be open to renovations on the new Google property.
"It's very, very common for a tenant to do what are called 'tenant improvements' -- from putting in a new carpet to carving a tunnel through the middle of building," he says.
"We have no immediate plans to expand," a Google spokesman told us last week when we inquired about the company's vision for Venice. (Notice the inclusion of "immediate.") But two years from now, it looks like the bums and drifters of Skid Rose will officially have to move over for a 200,000-square-foot Googleplex in Silicon Beach.
Update No. 1: Google spokesman Jordan Newman confirms that Google will begin renting out the Gold's building in summer 2014. But, he says, "we have no plans to expand into Gold's Gym space. In fact, we are working with them to extend their lease." Newman has no comment on the remaining 170,000 square feet, aside from his previous statement that "we have no immediate plans to expand."
Update No. 2: Apparently in response to disgruntled muscle men, L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl has taken the Gold's-to-Google debacle into his own hands. He promises in a statement today that Google "wants the gym to stay where it is," and even "hopes to strike an agreement that will keep Gold's Gym where it is for 10 more years":
For several months, rumors have been swirling in Venice that Gold's Gym, the iconic "Mecca of Bodybuilding" was going to be forced out of its location by Google, which last year made an historic move to Venice.
This morning, my staff spoke with both local Google officials and the head of Google America's real estate group. We have been thoroughly assured that Google appreciates the significance of Gold's Gym to the Venice and bodybuilding communities, and wants the gym to stay where it is.
Google America's Real Estate Group confirmed that Google has acquired the lease for a number of properties in the area near its Venice campus, including the property occupied by Gold's Gym. Google is currently negotiating with the Gold's Gym parent company, TRT Holdings, Inc., and hopes to strike an agreement that will keep Gold's Gym where it is for 10 more years.
I anticipate Google and TRT Holdings will make their own public statements when negotiations conclude. But in the meantime, Gold's Gym is staying put, in the heart of Venice, as a landmark, and as the world capital of bodybuilding.
As far as future plans for a huge Venice compound, though, this only looks to be a confirmation. Rosendahl says Google "has acquired the lease for a number of properties in the area near its Venice campus."