2016 Was a Strong Year for Santa Clarita Valley Business

By Patrick Mullen

Last update: Monday, December 5th, 2016

Here are the top business stories of 2016, as covered in the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal.

JANUARY

JSB Development to Start Second Project

After holding onto a parcel for a decade, JSB Development decided to develop the parcel, off McBean Parkway near where The Greens’ miniature golf course and restaurant once stood. The five-story project includes 60 apartments ranging from studios to two-bedroom units, above 10,000 square feet of retail and office space, and an underground parking garage. The project is near the Santa Clarita Transit Center, the paseo network, and Westfield Valencia Town Center. The development is near the corner of McBean and Valencia Blvd., where a developer plans to build a hotel called The Oliver. JSB Development is a Santa Clarita firm with multiple projects in the works, including the masterplan community of Vista Canyon.

Ktech Launches Second Company

Ktech Telecommunications Inc., maker of products for digital broadcast and cable companies, relocated to Valencia, earned a state business tax credit, and launched a new line of business. Ktech was an early entry in the development of microchip technology used for high-definition television (HDTV). The 20-year-old company moved from Chatsworth to an 8,000-square foot space on Avenue Crocker. The new venture, iXT Manufacturing Solutions, LLC, provides engineering and circuit assembly services to other companies, with a focus on light-emitting diode (LED) products for medical and industrial clients in need of high-reliability products. Ktech, only the second Santa Clarita company to earn a California Competes Tax Credit, received a $100,000 credit in exchange for committing to invest $720,000 and adding at least four full-time employees over four years.

 

Local Firms Relieved at Renewal of Export-Import Bank

The Export-Import Bank, a federal agency, was shuttered for five months after Congress allowed its charter to expire for the first time in its 81-year history, then revived as part of a transportation bill signed by President Obama. The bank makes and guarantees loans to help foreign customers buy U.S. goods. Locally, aerospace manufacturers say the bank helps level the competitive playing field since other countries provide similar support to their companies. The bank authorized $20 billion worth of transactions in 2015, which supported $27.5 billion in U.S. exports and 164,000 American jobs, said U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R.-Ill.

Burbank Airport Overhaul Holds Hope for Local Travelers

Long-delayed plans to replace the aging and cramped terminal at Bob Hope Burbank airport (since rebranded as Hollywood Burbank Airport) moved forward, held out hope that the nearest airport to the Santa Clarita Valley will open a new chapter by the early 2020’s. The airport will still have 14 gates, but the terminal will be farther from the runways for safety reasons and will have 70 percent more space for passenger amenities. In November, Burbank voters passed Measure B with 69 percent of voters, which authorized the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority to proceed with the $400-million project, which the authority has supported since it was formed in 1978.

Second Newhall Building Sold to Investors

A historic building at the corner of Main and Market Streets in the heart of Old Town Newhall was sold to an investment group for close to asking price. The 8,450-square foot, two-story retail and commercial building was best known as home to Work Boots Warehouse, which moved to Lyons Ave. since the sale closed. “Investors see tremendous opportunities in the area,” said Tim Crissman, of Crissman Commercial Services, Inc. “They’ve seen the renaissance that has been ongoing and it’s only going to get stronger.” The building is on the site of the Southern Hotel, a semi-colonial style two-story hotel that opened in 1887 that burned down decades ago. A mural of the hotel adorns the side of the current building. The building is in the heart of the historic downtown district, near two live theaters and restaurants.

Outlook 2016: Jobs and Connecting with Employees

Job were predicted to grow by 2,000 in 2016, said Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp., with the greatest growth in the logistics sector including transportation, warehousing and utilities, construction and government. The toughest challenge for companies looking to hire is finding the people they’re looking for, particularly people who live here in the Santa Clarita Valley, said Keri Aaver, director of the local WorkSource Center.

City and County Celebrate “Princess Cruises Day”

The 50th anniversary of Santa Clarita-based Princess Cruises was celebrated by the city and LA County. The cruise line entered its first-ever float in the Tournament of Roses Parade, and reunited the cast of the TV show “The Love Boat” which is credited with launching the modern cruise industry during its 1977-1986 run. Princess is the third-largest cruise line in the world, with a fleet of 18 ships and more than 30,000 employees who serve 1.7 million travelers a year.

KB Homes Wins Water-Sense Award from EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a 2015 WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award to KB Home, a long-time builder in the Santa Clarita Valley. The award recognizes efforts to make homes more water efficient with products that meet the EPA’s WaterSense standards. KB’s WaterSense-labeled homes save an estimated 3 million gallons of water daily. KB Home is one only a few homebuilders in California to take part in the program, and the only one that is building homes in the Santa Clarita Valley. Other local WaterSense participants include the City of Santa Clarita, Castaic Lake Water Agency, which owns the Santa Clarita Water Division, Newhall County Water District, and the Valencia Water Company.

Outlook 2016: Filming

With more than 533 permits for location shooting (up from 460 the previous year) 2015 was a strong year for filming in Santa Clarita, said Evan Thomason, economic development associate with the city’s Film Office. He anticipated another strong year in 2016, as a tight market for studio space throughout LA County helps fill studio space here. The state’s new film and TV tax credit program was also expected to drive an increase in filming activity.

Outlook 2016: New Housing

Housing starts in Los Angeles and Ventura counties were expected to hold steady, with nearly 21,000 new units, of which three quarters are multi-family units. Building and delivering houses at an affordable price point was seen as the biggest challenge by Michelle Weedon, Senior Vice President, Advisory of Meyers Research. “We have very limited new home/rental inventory; we can’t build enough homes to house our growing population.”

FEBRUARY

IT Healthcare Firm Launches with Perfect Timing

MTS Healthcare announced plans to move its workforce from Pasadena to the Santa Clarita Valley with plans for growth. “We are a cloud computing company and IT service provider that works exclusively with healthcare organizations across the U.S. hosting electronic medical records applications,” said James Deck, founder and CEO. The company is developing a second tool for medical groups, a kiosk that allows patients to check in on their own when going to their doctors and make any required copayments. “It relieves front desk staff so they can focus more on patient care and billing,” Deck said. He said his firm’s primary goal is to make it easier for doctors to focus on their primary mission of providing care to patients, by reducing the complexity and costs of IT services.

Sunkist: Profile of a Growers’ Cooperative

After more than 40 years in Sherman Oaks, Sunkist Growers Inc. moved its headquarters to N. Entertainment Dr. in Valencia. “Relocating our headquarters was a business decision to bring our operations closer to our growers, the heart of our business, while keeping our current employee base intact,” said Russ Hanlin, President and CEO. “The local community has been very welcoming during the entire process, and we are proud to welcome our business partners from all over the world to Sunkist’s new home in Valencia.” Sunkist is the world’s largest citrus cooperative, marketing millions of cartons of fresh citrus internationally.

Refrigerated Door Company Relocates to Santa Clarita

CDS Doors LLC relocated to the Santa Clarita Valley to accommodate its growth in the market for freezer and cooler glass display doors for supermarkets and other retail outlets. The company moved from San Fernando to a nearly 50,000-square-foot building on Sierra Highway in Canyon Country that once housed Morton Manufacturing. “It was always our goal to own a facility in order to be self-sufficient,” said co-owner Fernando Calderon, who started the company in 2002 with Tim Karnes and Duane Beswick. They drew on decades of experience in the design, engineering and manufacturing of refrigerated glass doors. The company has 40 employees.

Contractor Buys Building He Built and Sold

Westridge Executive Plaza on the Old Road is back in familiar hands, those of Dale Donohoe and Intertex Properties of Valencia, which built Westridge in 2003 and sold it in 2005. The 64,388-square-foot building once housed Pardee Homes, which occupied 10,000 square feet before the housing market crashed, but eventually vacated all its space. “The timing was horrible for the owners,” Donohoe said. “When they bought the property in 2006, they put it on a 10-year loan which expired in December, exactly when they had their lowest occupancy to date.” Intertex sold the building at the height of the market and bought it back for millions less, he said.

SCV Film Studio Sued by CBS, Paramount

Independent film producer Axanar Productions and its owner, Alec Peters, were sued by CBS Studios and Paramount for copyright infringement over a fan film, “Star Trek: Axanar.” Peters is also the founder of Santa Clarita-based Ares Studios. Peters acknowledged that CBS Studios owns all Star Trek copyrights, and said that his production was strictly not for profit. Paramount and CBS sought a judgment that would have stopped production and imposed a $150,000 penalty for each infraction. In May, at the urging of Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin, Paramount dropped the lawsuit. CBS said it was working on guidelines governing fan films.

National Closed-Captioning Service in Santa Clarita

While the National Captioning Institute is based in Chantilly, Va., it has an office in Texas, and now one in Santa Clarita. After more than 20 years in Burbank, the nonprofit moved its California office to nearly 5,000 square feet of space on Constellation Road. The Burbank location, closer to production houses and studios, made sense in the era of moving physical media like video tapes. Digital media makes that proximity less critical, said Jill Toshi, President and CEO. NCI produces 150,000 hours of closed captioning services each year in English and Spanish, reaching millions of viewers, including the hearing impaired and those in noisy places like airports and gyms.

Entertaining the Masses at the Gym

MYE Entertainment moved to a new 8,000-square-foot facility on Westinghouse Place in Valencia. The company, with 18 core employees and another 40 engaged in research and development, designs and manufactures wireless audio technology, including LCD TV audio/video connections for fitness equipment in gyms. MYE works with equipment makers like Cybex, Life Fitness, Matrix, Precor, Octane, Star Trac, StairMaster, and SportsArt. The privately held company ships more than 40,000 wireless receivers and 25,000 LCD TVs a year for the commercial fitness industry.

Plans Temporarily on Hold for Medical Offices, Parking

Plans by Kaiser Permanente to renovate the former U.S. Borax building on Tourney Road were delayed in January, pending review of possible Native American cultural resources. Kaiser is converting the building to new Santa Clarita Specialty Medical Offices. The project also calls for replacement of a four-story parking structure with a larger seven-story garage. The delay came after the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians requested a consultation, which was concluded by March. Kaiser bought the property in 2012, and anticipates opening in 2017, while keeping its current medical office building, also on Tourney Rd., for primary care.

EDC Awards Incentive to Firm for Moving to SCV

After launching the Industry Cluster Attraction Incentive program in partnership with Los Angeles County in 2014, the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. issued a check for $23,694 to Richard Photo Lab in January after the firm relocated to Santa Clarita last year with 38 employees. The money reimbursed fees incurred associated with the relocation including sanitation district fees, which can be onerous and challenging for businesses, said Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCVEDC. The incentive helped remove an obstacle of relocating to the region. Launched with a $200,000 fund to attract new businesses in the area’s target industry clusters, the economic group is able to award up to $40,000 to a business.

MannKind Believes its Troubles are its Opportunity

Reports swirled of a possible sale of MannKind, Santa Clarita biomedical device maker. Reuters reported that MannKind was working with investment bankers on options. In January, MannKind announced a licensing agreement with a Receptor Life Sciences Inc., a Seattle-based group of investors, for technology to deliver via inhaled powder a pharmaceutical ingredient they have proprietary access to. MannKind faced major upheavals in its path toward widespread marketing and sale of its inhalable insulin drug Afrezza. After 10 years of research and development, multiple Food and Drug Administration clinical trials, and finally FDA approval in 2014, a deal with Paris-based Sanofi to market and distribute Afrezza in 2015 fizzled quickly as sales failed to ramp up. Sanofi terminated the agreement.

MARCH

To the Moon and Back for Santa Clarita Firm

Santa Clarita-based Cicoil can lay claim to a rare status: their products directly supported the life of Apollo astronauts. And in a chance opportunity, a long-lost flat cable harness produced by the company came up for auction from a private collection – and came back to the place it was made 50 years later. The flat high performance cables, embedded in lightweight ribbons of materials for maximum flexibility, enabled continuous monitoring of vital signs, such as blood pressure, respiration, body temperature and pulse rate for each astronaut during flight and orbit – and for the spacewalk of Apollo 9 astronauts in 1969. The firm, founded in 1956 to replace stiff bulky cables for companies like IBM and the aerospace industry, moved to Valencia in 1986. It employs 85 and serves clients that include Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Space X.

New Media Team Puts Control of SCV News Group Back in Local Hands

The SCVBJ welcomed new owners last year, the Paladin Multi-Media Group. In a stunning announcement in December 2015, ownership of the 96-year old Signal newspaper and the Business Journal, came home to Santa Clarita. The hometown and homegrown newspaper had been owned by Georgia-based Morris Multimedia group for 37 years. Now privately owned, the Paladin Multi-Media Group consists of Charles F. Champion, longtime business partner Gary Sproule, and former Signal Publisher Russ Briley.

Fulfillment Firm Leases Third Warehouse

Family-owned and operated Valencia Fulfillment leased its third building, 15,000 square feet of additional space on Avenue Stanford in the Valencia Industrial Center. Launched in the garage of President Jose Corona 15 years earlier, Valencia Fulfillment tracks sales of over $3 million annually and employs 40 people. New clients necessitated finding a third building for the growing business. With its main office on Hasley Canyon Road in Castaic, Valencia Fulfillment differs slightly from other fulfillment companies like AMS Fulfillment, he said. While Valencia Fulfillment manages order fulfillment, and maintains and ships inventory to clients, the firm also does some light manufacturing and bulk assembly, often packaging multiple products into kits which then go out to its clients warehouses for distribution.

“NCIS” Celebrates 300th Episode

The long-running TV show “NCIS” starring Mark Harmon celebrated filming its 300th episode at their studio in Santa Clarita in February. The episode aired in March. “It was a lofty benchmark to get to,” said Evan Thomason, economic development associate for the city of Santa Clarita’s Film Office. “It’s almost unheard of in the TV industry. It speaks to the tremendous popularity of one of America’s favorite shows.” A locally-based TV show, “NCIS” is now in its 13th season. Its forerunner was “JAG,” which also filmed in Santa Clarita. “It’s many of the same group of people that have filmed out here for 20-plus years,” said Kelli Lajer, with the city’s film office. “A ton of people now own houses out here; they moved here and raised their families. It’s perhaps the longest running crew ever.”

RV Park Invests $1.1M in Solar Power

Seeking to lower energy bills soaring over $20,000 per month in the summer months, Castaic Lake RV Park invested $1.1 million to install solar panels. The recreational vehicle park opened in 1979 as a KOS – Kampgrounds of America – park. Today, four owner/partners, including two second-generation owners, operate the park on Ridge Route Road, a half mile from Castaic Lake. The four got together and decided to install solar, said Ray Graeber, general manager for the past 25 years. “We applied for a loan in April 2015, but it took the bank over four months to approve it.” The RV park then waited for California Edison’s permission to operate, which came in February. With 103 full hook-up sites plus six overflow sites, along with 200 storage sites for RVs and boats, Castaic Lake RV Park has 309 sites. The owners wanted to increase profits by saving on operating expenses, and be green at the same time, Graeber said.

NAI Capital’s Valencia Office Closes Deals

NAI Capital’s Santa Clarita office wrapped up multiple deals with the $8.8 million sale of a Van Nuys industrial property, and the $2.1 million sale of an industrial property on Avenue Stanford in Valencia – which led to two more deals. Yair Haimoff, executive vice president and branch manager of NAI Capital, sold the 54,597 square foot multi-tenant Gloria Densmore Park consisting of 4 buildings at Gloria and Densmore avenues. Haimoff represented the buyer, REX Investment LLC. The seller was Camillus T. and Phyllis V. Decinces. The total sale price was $8,783,000. In a deal which also closed escrow in February, Haimoff represented the seller on the $2.1 million sale of a 17,775 square foot freestanding building on a 32,000 square foot property at 25334 Avenue Stanford. Haimoff represented the seller, Flight Logistics Inc., and Matt Sreden from NAI Capital’s Valencia office represented the buyer, D-Rock LLC.

Printing Technology Solutions Firm Moves to SCV

After growing their print services company into one which harnesses hardware and software technology solutions to fit its clients’ workflow processes, Image 2000 relocated to Santa Clarita. Purchasing a building appraised at $2.9 million in the Valencia Industrial Center in a 1031-exchange, for property owned in Van Nuys, the 120-employee company simply needed more warehouse space as it expanded its services to multiple locations including Fresno, Bakersfield, Buena Park, Orange County, Inland Empire and Las Vegas, NV, said an executive. “We wanted more warehouse space than we could get in Van Nuys, which lacked quality warehouse space for a reasonable price,” said CEO Joe Blatchford. “And there’s a better of quality of life in Santa Clarita.” The new space has 22,500 square feet of space.

Valencia Firm Powers Sound at Super Bowl 50, Grammy Awards

When Super Bowl 50 headed into halftime Feb. 7, Santa Clarita-based ATK Audiotek took over, providing audio and system integration services halftime entertainment, as it had for pregame activities. Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars took the stage to entertain 72,000 fans at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Another 111.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the game. Privately owned by three partners – president Michael MacDonald, CTO/vice president-engineering Scott Harmala, and vice president of special events Mikael Stewart– ATK Audiotek started in Burbank but relocated to Santa Clarita Valley nearly nine years ago. Occupying 55,000 square feet of space for inventory, and with 75 employees, the firm’s been in business for 33 years. Its business is roughly comprised of 60 percent televised events and 40 percent built on integration of systems for other companies.

SCV’s Honda Performance Development Gears Up

Honda renewed its commitment to North America’s IndyCar open-wheel racing series. American Honda and its racing subsidiary, Santa Clarita-based Honda Performance Development (HPD), have an agreement to continue as a manufacturer in the IndyCar Series through 2017, with an option to extend the agreement through the 2020 season. Honda has been a part of open-wheel racing since the founding of the performance center in 1993 when it entered the now retired racing league, Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), in 1994.  HPD operates out of a 167,000-square-foot building in Santa Clarita. The two-story facility houses motorsports research and development operations, including design, development engineering, prototype, and production parts manufacturing. Honda’s success includes 217 race victories, 15 drivers’ championships, six competitive manufacturers’ championships, and 10 Indianapolis 500 victories since 2004.

Hyatt Hotel Changes Hands

The Hyatt Regency Valencia hotel on Town Center Drive in Santa Clarita changed ownership, as Southwest Value Partners Enterprises of San Diego acquired the name-brand hotel for $50.967 million. Built in 1998, the hotel has 244 rooms. With 180,450 square feet, it is the only venue in Santa Clarita with space to host large conferences, luncheons or dinners. Newhall Land & Farming Company built the hotel, with the city contributing money to help expand the conference room at the hotel.

APRIL

Special Report: Crushing the Wine Industry

Whether you make it, gift it, or drink it – the wine industry in Los Angeles County has been crushed by burdensome rules imposed by the county’s health department – and, not only did we shed light on the issues, we discusses major changes in a Special Report. Coverage included a look at California’s winery industry, attempts to build a wine market in Cuba, celebrity vintners, and a look back at the infamous Saugus wine heist.

First Significant Industrial Building in a Decade Breaks Ground

A year after groundbreaking, Phase I of new building construction at the International Airport Centers (IAC) Commerce Center began in April. Construction of the 116-acre business park marks the first significant industrial park to be built in the Santa Clarita Valley in a decade. Sitting on the hills adjacent to the Valencia Commerce Center off Witherspoon Parkway, the IAC Center will ultimately offer 1.3 million square feet of much-needed warehouse space. Vacancy rates have remained at record lows as the recession brought construction nearly to a halt, yet the lack of new building put a stranglehold on some SCV businesses who continued to expand – and for other companies choosing Santa Clarita as their new home.

Auto Club Moving Valencia Claims Unit

The Automobile Club of Southern California moved its Tourney Road operations in Valencia to an office building on Turnberry Lane, a broker for the deal said. Representing the landlord, Great Point Investors, Colliers International senior vice presidents Kevin Fenenbock and John Erickson leased the entire ground floor, some 29,000 square feet, in a building at the Summit at Valencia business park, representing about half the building. “This will be the largest new lease transaction in Santa Clarita for over 10 years,” Fenenbock said.

U.S. Labor Department Obtains $1.1M Judgment Against Gruber Systems and CEO

The U.S. Department of Labor won a million-dollar judgment against Santa Clarita-based Gruber Systems Inc., Gruber Systems Inc. Employee Stock Ownership Plan, and CEO John Hoskinson, accused of misusing employee retirement account funds. Hoskinson also briefly served as the director of the Small Business Development Center in Santa Clarita. A suit, filed as a result an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, alleged that the defendant’s actions resulted in losses to the Gruber employee retirement plan. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ordered Gruber and Hoskinson to pay the company’s employee retirement fund $1.1 million within 30 calendar days of the Jan. 28 judgment. They were fined $220,000 in civil penalties.

Cowboy at Heart, Actor Serves Up Movie Props, Horses and Ranch

Actor and Caravan West Productions owner Peter Sherayko parlayed a movie career, love of acting and many western film roles into a one-stop film ranch in Agua Dulce for “everything western.” Perhaps best known for his role in the movie “Tombstone,” this old cowboy walks, drives and rides by horse the some 2,400 acres of his Agua Dulce ranch – or caravans around the country buying antiques and western memorabilia to survey the property and ensure everything remains pristine and authentically western to the film and television industry. Preserving collection of western guns and rifles, more saddles, cowboys hats, historic costumes, an old general store and a library of 5,000 on the Old West and American history, make Caravan West the one-stop shop for everything from movies to commercials to documentaries. In 2014, Caravan West Productions hosted 47 movies, TV shows, and commercials on the ranch.

$3.1M Loan Finances Apartment Renovation in Santa Clarita

Lending company iBorrow made $3.1 million available to an undisclosed party for the purchase and renovation of two residential properties in Newhall, said the lending company’s executive. Built in 1995, the property sits on about a one-third acre and has four buildings with four units each, said Brian Good, CEO of iBorrow. The loan on the apartment complex includes a 26,747 square foot lot with 16 one- and two-bedroom units. It also includes four two-car parking garages and an additional 24 surface parking lots. The new owner is gutting and rehabbing each unit.

Economists: No Hints of Recession

Economists at the Santa Clarita Economic Outlook Conference said key economic measurements do not point to a recession occurring anytime soon. But if anything is hindering growth locally, it has been the absence of new construction – residential and commercial – in the Santa Clarita Valley, according to Mark Schniepp, director of the California Economic Forecast. “Don’t pack up the recession bags yet,” Schniepp said. “We just don’t see it.” Mark Vitner, senior economist for Wells Fargo, pegged the risk of recession at somewhere between 23 and 25 percent – a number he deemed to be very low risk. The lowest the risk of recession ever gets is 15 percent, he said.

MAY

One Year Later: A Valley Still Disconnected

In the year after the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal published a detailed special report on the lack of access to high speed Internet services for businesses in the region, scant progress was made to develop a cohesive, strategic plan to build up the infrastructure. Progress to date has taken place in silos – by private parties making piecemeal attempts to patch service together. One case is the owners of the Mann Biomedical Park, who invested tens of thousands of dollars to build a world class business park by negotiating a fiber deal with Time Warner, committing to deliver a number of tenants as customers to the provider. “We paid to bring it to the park,” said President Dale Donohoe of Intertex. “We were quoted $150,000, but got down to the ballpark of (paying) tens of thousands less by showing them the number of businesses they’d have hooking up to it.”

Aerospace Firm Lamsco Moves into Ultra-modern Facility

Aerospace supplier Lamsco West Inc. of Santa Clarita opened its 75,000 square foot building on The Old Road by Henry Mayo Drive – a move that cost the company some $4 million to double its space and increase capacity. It completed the move without skipping a beat in supplying high performance parts to its clients. “With the official opening of this new facility, we are absolutely delighted to be cementing the foundations for the next phase of exciting growth at Lamsco,” said CEO Howard Kimberley. Its high-tech computerized machinery is well lit, has heavy duty ceiling insulation that drop the ambient temperature by 10 to 15 degrees, and a special massive environmental ducting system that continuously sucks out dust or debris from the shop. Water used in the manufacturing process is cleaned and recycled, eliminating discharge into the sewer systems.

SCV Hotel Room Demand Exceeded Supply During Gas Leak

The nearly five-month massive leak at the Aliso Canyon gas wells in Porter Ranch drove residents from their homes and into temporary housing within a 50-mile radius of the leak. Declared the worst natural gas leak in U.S. history in terms of its environmental impact, relocating Porter Ranch residents had an unintended economic benefit for hotels and rental properties in the Santa Clarita Valley. In a market already in need of more hotels – and with at least three more planned for the future – demand exceeded supply. Four area hotels were sold out April 11 through 13, and rates were up from last October at 9 of 12 hotels. Still, rates remained below the average rate for a room in a Los Angeles hotel.

Sunset Pointe Plaza Sold to Local Investors

One of the more recognizable office buildings in the Santa Clarita Valley, the three-story, all brick Sunset Pointe Plaza, built in 1988, sitting prominently on The Old Road off I-5 has come home to local ownership. The deal closed April 1, with the sale being reported for $9.1 million. Representing the institutional seller, Blackstone, Colliers International sold the 59,000 square foot building to a group of local investors, who purchased the building as Legacy Holdings Sunset Plaza LLC.

Qiagen: Making Improvements in Life Possible

In May, we profiled Qiagen (pronounced Ky-gen), a firm providing technical and sales support to the life sciences industry, a field that helps improve the quality and standard of life. Qiagen is behind a new blood test for tuberculosis – eliminating the under the skin test of the past – and helped actress Angelie Jolie determine which DNA marker she carried for breast cancer, as well as to exonerate a man in July 2014 who was imprisoned 26 years for a murder he didn’t commit. Working with biological materials like blood, bodily fluids, skin and other body materials, the company creates test kits used by medical personnel to provide reliable diagnoses for patients in laboratories, and scores of hospitals and research centers.

New Beginning for New Beginning Stone

Tile and stone manufacturer New Beginning Stone Inc. decided to relocate from Van Nuys to Santa Clarita, said the commercial broker who helped the company make the selection. Launched in 2000, the company has completed thousands of custom fabrications and installations of granite slab kitchen counters, vanity tops, tub decks, shower walls, fireplace hearths and surrounds, outdoor kitchens and barbeques. New Beginning Stone is moving into the Saugus Industrial Center on Springbrook Ave., said Pamela Verner of SCV Commercial Real Estate Services. The firm represented both the tenant and the landlord – Saugus Industrial Center LLC. In need of larger space, the firm signed a three-year lease on the property, she said. Additional terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Stevenson Ranch Plaza sold for $72.5 million

The Stevenson Ranch Plaza in the Santa Clarita Valley was sold for $72.5 million to InvenTrust Properties Corp. of Illinois. Located at the corner of Pico Canyon and The Old Road, the retail center is anchored by Ralphs, and includes LA Fitness, PetSmart and Stein Mart as tenants. “We are excited to announce the acquisition of Stevenson Ranch Plaza, a premier retail center with a top-tier grocer in one of the largest retail markets in the U.S.,” Michael E. Podboy, Executive Vice President – CFO and CIO of InvenTrust said in a statement. The retail center represents a chance for the property investment company to expand its presence in Southern California, in an area marked by strong residential growth, high traffic, and strong demographics.

Flextronics Building Sold

A state-of-the-art industrial building that houses Flextronics, a high-tech business serving the aerospace, defense, and medical device industries, has been sold to Los Angeles-based Rexford Industrial Realty L.P. Flextronics will continue to operate out of the facility. Located at 28454 Livingston Avenue, the industrial building has 134,287 square feet and sits on nearly 14 acres. CBRE brokers Craig Peters and Doug Sonderegger represented both the buyer and the seller, LNR Gateway V LLC/28454 Livingston, LLC.

Aerospace Firm Moves to Valencia from North Hollywood

Aerospace company Air Bolt Group of North Hollywood signed a 10-year lease in March for an 8,500 square foot building on Avenue Crocker in the Valencia Industrial Center. NAI Capital helped broker the deal. Additional terms of the lease were not disclosed. Air Bolt manufactures latches, struts, buts and bolts for commercial aircraft. “We specifically wanted to be in Santa Clarita because we’re seeing growth in the aerospace industries here and want to be part of it,” said CEO Oscar Ramirez. The company has 20 employees.

Ken & Joe’s Motorcycle Dealer Relocates

Ken & Joe’s, franchise dealers for Honda, Kawasaki and KTM motorcycles, is moving to a new Santa Clarita location at 21616 Golden Triangle, near Centre Pointe Parkway with two other motorcycle dealerships nearby, said Rick Hawn, broker with Realty Executives – Commercial Division. Busting at the seams, finding a new location was tricky, Hawn said because the City of Santa Clarita has strict requirements for motorcycle sales and service. But he was able to help strike a deal on the new space, allowing Ken & Joe’s to expand from 8,000 to 14,000 square feet of space. It had been operating in a smaller building on Bouquet Canyon Road. Ken & Joe’s signed a seven-year lease with two three-year options. Reid, who bought the business in 2011, expects to add a few more employees to the 17 or 18 he already has.

New Life for Art Deco Auditorium

Lundgren Management officials broke ground on a $4.8 million renovation project for the Newhall School District in March that will bring the Newhall Elementary School’s Art Deco auditorium into the modern age while preserving its legacy. Built in 1941, the auditorium has primarily served as storage space since the 1970s. When complete, it will include state-of-the-art audio/visual capabilities, energy-efficient lighting, expanded stage space, improved acoustics and seating for nearly 550. The project will also include the addition of a new outside patio suitable for event receptions.

Mall Morphing into Social Interaction Center

Up to 7,000 square feet of parking lot space at the Westfield Valencia Town Center was set aside to build a restaurant pad at the corner of Citrus Street and Magic Mountain Pkwy. Once built, the space can accommodate one to three restaurants, said Stacie House, a spokesperson with the mall. The latest restaurant development reflects a growing presence of restaurant options at the shopping center which includes the Patios, the standalone drive through Chick-fil-A, a Saddle Ranch Chop House, and a long-awaited Cheesecake Factory, opening in the Fall at the mall. The changing landscape is a trend at malls with the advent of the sharply rising number of Internet shoppers. “We don’t consider ourselves a mall at all,” House said. “While we’re a shopping center where retail exists, we’re also curating a social interaction component, something with entertainment value to socially connect friends and family with all the various events we host.”

JUNE

Special Report: Marijuana Industry
We provided comprehensive coverage of the marijuana industry and its growing impact, including a look at Proposition 64, a proposal to legalize recreational use of pot. The ballot measure passed in November with a 56 percent yet vote. The special report included a look at the new frontier for the nation’s biggest cash crop, a still largely underground, industry, an interview with Lori Ajax, California’s first chief of the state’s Bureau of Medical Marijuana, and analysis of how banks are stuck in the middle, since marijuana is illegal in the eyes of the federal government, but legal in many states. Other stories include the implications in L.A. County as commercial marijuana growers seek to lease industrial warehouse space as grow houses, a look at the scope of the industry, chances that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration might reclassify marijuana, a summary of companies jumping into the industry, and a reminder that not all marijuana crops are ‘bad’ – hemp had been outlawed by the state years ago, but it’s now legal and being used for a range of products from cosmetics to clothing.

Two Grocery-Anchored Retail Centers Sell Within a Month

Bouquet Center in Saugus, anchored by Vons grocery, and the Stevenson Ranch Plaza, anchored by Ralphs, were sold by the Hanley Investment Group within one month. ROIC – Retail Opportunity Investments Corp. – purchased Bouquet Center in a 1031 exchange. The investment group pursues stabilized grocery-anchored shopping centers, and also handles their own rentals. Bold dark blue lease signs went up at the shopping center almost as soon as escrow closed. The Stevenson Ranch Plaza sold for $72.5 million. Ed Hanley and Kevin Fryman of Hanley Investment Group Real Estate Advisors represented both the buyer and the seller, a Los Angeles-based private investor, in the Stevenson Ranch transaction. It is 97 percent leased and was purchased by a self-managed Real Estate Investment Trust, InvenTrust Properties Corp.

Top Commercial Brokers Recognized

The region’s top commercial real estate brokers were honored April 28 by the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation. Twenty-six brokers were honored for the volume of their transactions in the SCV, as well as for their help in attracting firms to the region. Combined, the brokers recognized closed deals on over 2.5 million square feet of space in the region, according to the SCVEDC. CBRE brokers Craig Peters, Doug Sonderegger, Jeff Woolf, Matt Mallers were specifically credited for a transaction the SCVEDC referred to as a big win for the valley and its residents. Last year, in part, the brokers helped Logix Federal Credit Union make the final decision to relocate their headquarters to Santa Clarita, after being based in Burbank since 1937.

Creekside Place Retail Center Sold for $9.65 Million
Escrow closed on the auction held of the Creekside Place retail center on Valencia Blvd., home to anchor tenant Barnes & Noble. The center, built in 1995, went up for auction in late February, within 30 days a buyer surfaced, and by the end of April the deal closed. Ten-Z, formerly Auction.com, handled the sale of the retail center. Bids began at a minimum of $2 million. Although the retail center sits in a prime spot with plenty of visibility, it has witnessed a revolving door of tenants. Only one tenant, the anchor Barnes and Noble, has remained a steady retail outlet. At one point the property was reportedly arrear in property taxes, but it’s unknown who last owned the retail center. The land was originally sold by Newhall Land and Farming to a developer in the ’90s, said a former executive with the company. The winning bid was $9.65 million. Arshia Harrison Refoua was the buyer.

Percussion Legend Remo Belli Dies

Remo D. Belli, 88, founder and CEO of Remo Inc. — the Valencia-based maker of drums accessories, died in April. “It was kind of shocking to everyone,” said Remo Inc. President Brock Kaericher. “He touched a lot of people all around the world.” Like a rock star, Remo Belli never went by his last name. Both he and his company were known simply by one name: Remo. “An innovator, pioneer and icon of the world of percussion, he was an inspiration to us all for breaking new ground and making a difference in the world,” a company statement said. Credited with making drums readily available during the heyday of rock ’n roll, Remo founded his firm in 1957, and invented the first successful synthetic drum skin using Mylar, as traditional animal skins were a problem for drummers in the rain or humidity. He patented the Mylar drum skins — and the rest became history. Remo’s invention became an industry standard.

Newhall Land Folded Into Newly Formed FivePoint

Newhall Land, architects of the Valencia master plan and the future Newhall Ranch community, has been folded into a newly formed FivePoint Holdings LLC. The company, named for the family that once owned thousands of acres used for agricultural purposes before it went into land development, is now part of the FivePoint Holdings, he said. In a complex arrangement, Newhall Land still owns land, Churm clarified. The Newhall Ranch project has been combined with three other mixed-use, master planned communities. “We (FivePoint) remain in the market in the Santa Clarita Valley, however,” Churm said. “Newhall Ranch is very important to us and we’re determined to see it built. Nothing changes in that respect.”

MakerSpace Innovation Movement Arrives at College Campus
Dreamers at College of the Canyons finally have a space of their own to design, engineer or fabricate innovations: the MakerSpace lab at the college’s Valencia campus in Santa Clarita. It’s a creative collaborative work space with cutting-edge tools like 3D printers and laser cutters, along with old fashioned necessities like welding tools. “MakerSpace is a collaborative work space, in contrast to a welding lab where all of your focus is on welding, or electronics where that is the sole focus, MakerSpace will share many of those resources on one spot,” said Ron McFarland, Dean of COC’s School of Applied Technologies. Begun with a $15,000 grant, the MakerSpace equipment will be available to the public by 2017.

Security Intelligence Experts Join News Group Board

Two new board members joined the Paladin Multi-Media Group, owners of The Signal newspaper and Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal. Both new members come out of the security and intelligence industry. Combined, Ronald T. Williams and Stephen Rybar have 60-plus years of high security level intelligence experience. “Ron and Steve are consummate professionals, both of whom I have successfully worked with over the past 14 years,” said Charles F. Champion, CEO, PMMG and publisher of the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. “They are first class investigators and their law enforcement expertise will give The Signal and the rest of the Paladin Multi-Media Group Inc. properties an added dimension to their journalistic effort.”

Urgent Care Offers Bypass to Hospital ER for Some

The opening of a privately owned urgent care center on the campus of the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital may help one business grow and another manage patient care. Staffed with family practice physicians and nurses and equipped to provide laboratory studies, X-rays, laceration repair, fracture evaluation, as well as management of fevers and other illnesses, the urgent care center is owned and operated by Bud Lawrence, MD, an emergency medicine physician and Director of Risk Management in the hospital’s emergency department. Lawrence is also a Santa Clarita resident. Open 12 hours a day, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week patients en route to hospital’s emergency room for non-emergency conditions may instead access the urgent care center – for a lot less money than an emergency room will cost, said a spokesperson for the hospital. And each redirected patient eases the load on hospital operations.

 

Cheesecake Factory Selects Santa Clarita for Newest Restaurant
Santa Clarita residents are finally getting what they’ve long waited for. The Cheesecake Factory is opening its latest outlet on Town Center Drive at the Westfield Valencia Town Center, a spokesperson for the mall confirmed. The Calabasas-based restaurant is planning to operate in 8,000 square feet of retail space formerly occupied by Sunglass Hut, Talbots and the Carlton Hair salon, across from Pottery Barn. The deal for the lease officially closed the week of May 2.

JULY

Giving the Heave-Ho to Captain Hook’s Claw-Cap Hook

Working with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and expecting Federal Drug Administration approval within the year, the Alfred Mann Foundation’s latest innovation will put the 1912 patented prosthetic cap-like hook of Captain Hook in a museum. Providing brain-controlled multi-functionality of prosthetics will help a whole lot of injured people. When the foundation’s latest system version is fully developed and approved, a patient will have up to eight degrees of simultaneous movement, including the movement of all five fingers. “We didn’t build the arm itself; we built the control system for prosthetics called IMES – Implantable MyoElectric Sensor,” said CEO David Hankin. “Previous prosthetics were limited to two points of control. The signaling movement was picked up by sensors on the surface of the skin, but the gets jumbled up with mixed signals. There are great limitations and they’re not intuitive.”

Northwest Timber Giant Operates Center in Santa Clarita

Pacific Northwest timber giant Weyerhaeuser operates only five distribution states in California – and one is in Santa Clarita. Founded in 1900 by Frederick Weyerhaeuser, it is one of the world’s largest private owners of timberlands, owning or managing more than six million acres of timberlands in the United States and another 14 million acres under long-term licenses in Canada. Santa Clarita’s center has operated locally for more than 20 years, having opened in March of 1995. It serves retail dealer locations throughout the area with residential building materials. The Santa Clarita Distribution handles approximately 21,000 orders a year, she said.

Aerospace Engineering, Plus Cello Instruction, Equals Math App for Kids

One of the hardest parts of learning math for kids is going over and memorizing multiplication and division tables. Software engineer and mathematician Alex Bozman wants to make the tedious job of learning by rote a little easier and a lot more fun. With his recently released math game, “Bubbly Primes,” available via the Apple online app store since mid-December, he aims to help kids master the necessary but dull parts of learning. Bozman’s company, Nuhubit Software Studios LLC, is based in Santa Clarita, and the company’s name has a local connection, too. The village “Nuhubit” (now Newhall) is where the Tataviam people, the Native Americans who inhabited the Santa Clarita region sometime before 450 AD, lived.

Kadenze Delivers Arts, Media and Tech Education Worldwide

Finding top-level courses in the arts can be tough. The lack of access to arts education for many people inspired Ajay Kapur, director of music technology at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Last year, he and a group of techies and artists that include CalArts faculty and alumni launched Kadenze, a firm dedicated to bringing advanced education to the world. They built an online platform from scratch that provides an interactive virtual classroom offering arts, media and technology courses online for credit. “Being here in Santa Clarita, we’re right next to Cal Arts, we have a very strong relationship with a number of the professors here. Sixty percent of the company is alumni of Cal Arts.” Locating the company in Santa Clarita has a great many benefits, says Kapur.

Advrtas Lets Advertisers Present a Panoramic Feast for Your Eyes

Most online advertisements show you a picture or a video of a product, but technology from a Santa Clarita-based firm is throwing an entirely new light on electronic marketing. Advrtas, virtual reality software by Outlyer Technologies, lets advertisers present a 360-degree view of any product or location that they wish to market. The 360-degree views are made possible by Outlyer’s patent-pending Panamorphic technology. The company’s CEO and founder, Robert Bruza, says that this technology enables advertisers to pack a relatively small area – the space an ad occupies on a Smartphone or tablet screen – full of rich media. He likens it to “building a rabbit hole” in a little space on the Web.

Indy 500 Delivers Big Win for Santa Clarita Firm and Resident

It was like the running of the bulls in Spain, only these were mechanical bulls – race cars – driving at speeds up to 230 mph in the 100th running of the Indy 500 on Memorial Day Weekend. And while the race is in Indianapolis, Indiana, it was a Santa Clarita company, a Valencia team owner, and a California driver who won the legendary brickyard race. Low on fuel, IndyCar rookie Alexander Rossi outlasted his faster rivals earning a stunning victory for Bryan Herta of Valencia’s Bryan Herta Autosport and the Andretti Autosport team. The two teams formed their partnership earlier this year.

Mutual Fund Caters To Formula One Fans

John Foti’s passion for Formula One racing can be found in the form of a scar from a burning ember that landed on his shoulder in 1991 when the international series raced in downtown Phoenix, AZ in 1991. Foti, head of Grand Prix Investors Fund in Lancaster,  sitting so close to the track that when the cars accelerated from their standing start, a spark from one of the cars landed on his shoulder – the ember burning a hole through his Ferrari sweatshirt, only to leave its mark. Foti offers small investors and diehard race fans of the Formula One series a chance to invest in the partnering, sponsoring, or supplying companies that are directly or indirectly are involved with Formula One – focusing on publicly traded securities.

Landscape Development Buys Thousand Oaks Landscape Firm

Valencia-based Landscape Development Inc. acquired Thousand Oaks-based Enhanced Landscape Management in the San Fernando Valley. Landscape Development said it made the asset purchase of the $7.5 million dollar maintenance company in May. The SFV company has been in business for 12 years.  Enhanced Landscape Management serviced West Los Angeles and Ventura counties, which gives Santa Clarita’s Landscape Development enhanced service coverage in those areas, said owner and CEO Gary Horton. “It helps balance our firm with greater recurring revenue vs. just construction revenue; giving us an improved tilt toward the recurring business side,” Horton said. “They (Enhanced Landscape) have a strong brand name in Ventura County and West Los Angeles – it’s a high-end brand.”

Santa Clarita Firm Wins Awards for Outdoor Lighting

Visual Terrain, a Santa Clarita lighting design firm, has been awarded three prizes in the 2016 Illumination Awards of Merit, awarded by the Illumination Engineering Society of North America. It was recognized for its achievement in all three of its areas of expertise: architecture, attractions, and the arts. Visual Terrain won lighting design awards for Dollywood Emporium (architecture), Laff Track (attractions), and Rays (the arts). In all three cases, the firm designed the special effects lighting and worked with partners to ensure a successful implementation.

SetPoint Medical Inks Deal at Mann Biomedical Park

Biomedical device maker SetPoint Medical is moving into the Mann Biomedical Park in Santa Clarita, joining companies like Boston Scientific, the Alfred Mann Foundation, MannKind and Bioness. SetPoint is working on treating patients with debilitating inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It uses bioelectronic therapy using a proprietary, implantable device which helps regulates the central nervous system, which in turn regulates the body’s immune system. Moving into 14,000 square feet of space, SetPoint has 25 employees. It signed a deal with park owner, Intertex, with the help of broker Tim Crissman from Crissman Commercial Services, Arnold said.

Valencia Hotel Proposal Delayed

The Santa Clarita City Council had intended to send a revised planning project for a 134-room Valencia hotel to the Planning Commission in mid-June, but the matter was derailed temporarily by an unresolved matter from 2009. The Oliver Hotel Group LLC submitted a revised proposal in March 2016 for a hotel on property off McBean Parkway in Valencia where a Sheraton Hotel was once proposed. But City Council must conclude an appeal filed in 2009 with the original Sheraton proposal for a 136,000-square-foot, 88-foot-tall, 200-room hotel.

Santa Clarita Film Projects Receive State Tax Credits

The first round of film projects eligible for the state’s film tax credit program run by the California Film Commission included two that film in the Santa Clarita Valley. July 1 marks the beginning of the state’s second fiscal year of the expanded Film & Television Tax Credit Program. HBO’s “Westworld” and USA Network’s “Shooter,” produced by Paramount TV and Mark Wahlberg and adapted from his 2007 feature. Both are filming in Santa Clarita at local studios, movie ranches and locations around the city. Another TV project, “Four Stars,” has also filmed locally.

Red Lobster Land Sold on Restaurant Row

The land and building where Red Lobster operates on restaurant row in Valencia has been sold for the full asking price of $3,576,642, said the broker who represented longtime land owner Marquis Valley View LLC. The transaction closed May 31. It was sold to the Simonian Family 2008 Trust. Red Lobster, which has five years left on its lease, is planning to continue operating in place by leasing the space from the new owner, investor Samuel Simonian, Haimoff said.

Construction Begins at Hobby Lobby Store

The former Orchard Supply Hardware store on Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus is being prepared for the summer opening of a Hobby Lobby arts and craft store. “The garden center of the former OSH store is being demolished for construction of a 5,400 square foot addition to prepare for the future Hobby Lobby store,” confirmed Jason Crawford, economic development manager for the city of Santa Clarita. “The addition was approved on Dec. 18, 2015.” The doors of OSH were shuttered by the larger hardware supply chain Lowe’s in October 2013, shortly after Lowe’s acquired the smaller chain.

AUGUST

Special Report:  Multigenerational Santa Clarita Manufacturers

In August, we profiled six Santa Clarita manufacturing firms that have not only survived; they have managed to hand the firms down through generations of family members – from fathers to daughters, and fathers to sons. These multigenerational, family-owned and operated firms are small businesses that have all helped keep the economic wheels turning in the manufacturing industry. The firms are Al Hirth Machining Inc., Advanced Technology Machining/TECC Grinding, Marathon Industries, Precision Designs (doing business as sPOD), Safari Straps Inc., and Luran Inc. And although industry studies give California’s business climate poor grades due to the high cost of doing business, these firms are living proof that there are benefits to manufacturing in California.

Valencia Industrial Complex Sold

A five-building, multi-tenant warehouse located in the Valencia Commerce Center sold for $64.5 million. Jones Lang LaSalle Income Property Trust in Chicago acquired the five-building property from Clarion Partners in a deal that closed June 30. “The portfolio’s prime infill location in close proximity to Interstate 5 should allow us to attract and retain tenants and capture this market’s strong rent growth potential,” Allan Swaringen, CEO and president of JLL Income Property Trust, said in a statement. Located at 28145 Harrison Parkway, the warehouses total nearly 400,000 square feet of space. The property is 95 percent leased according to JLL’s filings.

Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal Wins National Award

The Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal won a first-place national award for its coverage of the business community’s frustration over the lack of high-speed internet infrastructure in the Valley. Competing against news publications from throughout the country, the SCVBJ was awarded first place by the National Newspaper Association for its series titled “A Disconnected Valley” which first began in May 2015. The award makes the publication a national journalism award winner for the first time.

Oliver Hotel Group Buys 4-Acre Property

The Oliver Hotel Group LLC, developers of the proposed Valencia hotel adjacent to the Hyatt Regency Valencia, purchased the 3.75 acre site from the State Bank of Texas. Brown Nester Hospitality Services represented both the seller and the buyer. The deal closed June 30. Terms were not disclosed. The site of the proposed hotel is located off McBean Parkway at Valencia Blvd. where a Sheraton Hotel was once proposed. Chuck Nester, president of Westlake Village-based Brown Nester Hospitality Services, founded in 1948, brokered the deal. The firm is experienced in managing, branding, insuring and selling hotel properties. It also works with banks holding hotel properties in default.

Wine Makers Still Waiting for Updated County Rules

Santa Clarita wine makers had hoped that outdated rules for making wine would be updated by allowing them to compete with other regions in the state. However, the proposed changes are still making their way through the review process by the Los Angeles County’s Office of County Counsel. The office provides advice and counsel to the Board of Supervisors on any ordinance change. While California has been a major player in the wine market worldwide, wine makers in Los Angeles County have been held back by decades-old rules, which winemakers consider arcane, that classify wine crush facilities as food processing plants. The classification imposes expensive undue regulations, the winemakers say. And they’ve been lobbying for change for the better part of a decade.

Large Industrial Park Steps Up to Save H2O

Three parties working behind the scenes for the better part of a year brokered a deal to save water on a giant scale when the Castaic Lake Water Association, Valencia Commerce Center Association, and the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. sealed a five-year deal to replace lawns and save water. We’re talking “big water savings” here – water savings that might put a dent in the pressure to save that homeowners in the valley have felt over the past couple years. The water savings translate to 16.3 million gallons annually, according to Dirk Marks, CLWA’s water resources manager.

Holistic Pet Food Company Leases Larger Space

Holistic dog and cat food company, Pets Global Inc. of Santa Clarita, leased a 35,310 square foot industrial building on Industry Drive. The deal closed June 1. Matt Dierckman of CBRE represented the landlord. The Aronoff Brothers own the building. David Hoffberg at Delphi Business Properties represented the tenant Pets Global. The lease is for five years. The property is located at 28334 Industry Drive. Their pet foods are branded as Zignature for canine companions and Fussie Cat for the feline companion. The foods are also AAFCO – Association of American Feed Control Officials – approved.

MannKind to Promote Its Inhalable Insulin
After a disappointing partnership with pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, Valencia-based MannKind Corporation is launching its own campaign to market Afrezza, its inhalable insulin product for diabetics. Paris-based Sanofi gave notice in January that the company intended to terminate its licensing agreement with MannKind for global distribution of the medication. Since then, MannKind has been developing a sales and marketing force of its own to pick up where Sanofi left off – a first for the Valencia firm. Newly hired Chief Commercial Officer Michael Castagna is building and heading up the nascent sales and marketing operation.

SEPTEMBER

Special Report: Santa Clarita’s Film Industry

This edition highlighting Santa Clarita’s film industry included contributions from many partners who helped us bring these industry stories and photos together – from the city of Santa Clarita film office, to our movie ranches, film production people who gave us a behind the scenes peek at the industry, and companies that make up our thriving film industry. Coverage included a look local producers of sound and music for TV and films, USA Network’s drama “Shooter,” which is, well, shot here, a new Netflix show named for Santa Clarita, a profile of Lifton Institute of Media Arts and Sciences, moves to support smaller productions, new rules affecting drones in filming, and a comprehensive listing of shows and movies based in or filmed on location in Santa Clarita.

Raging Inferno: When Life Imitates Art

The Sand Fire started out small, burning just a quarter of an acre of brush on the south side of Highway 14 near Sand Canyon Road in Santa Clarita on Friday, July 22. Brush fires in the summer are. It was expected that firefighters would quickly put the flames out.  Steve Arklin Jr., family members, friends and a volunteer crew of some 30 people at Rancho Deluxe went three days without sleep fighting to protect their home and business at the family’s movie ranch. Despite knowing what to do – it was the third fire they’d battled in their lifetime – at one point Arklin thought they were going to lose it all. But fires are unpredictable. What started out small rapidly grew mean and stubborn, dodging efforts of the firefighters to control it. The once-small brush fire suddenly jumped the Metrolink tracks. The battle was on.

Medical Device Manufacturer Making Leap to Larger Space

Six years ago, Technical Manufacturing West (TMW) was a startup company using hand-operated machinery to create prototypes of orthopedic medical devices, and was housed in a Santa Clarita garage. With business expanding, TMW Vice President of Operations Johnny Valadez and General Manager Brad Topper are moving to larger quarters for the third time in the company’s short history – a 14,000 square-foot facility on Avenue Tibbitts in Santa Clarita. Specializing in non-conventional machining, TMW’s operation lends itself to the manufacture of micro-surgical orthopedic devices. Moveable mechanical assemblies that they build allow access to otherwise inaccessible areas of the anatomy, or speed difficult procedures in the operating room. Topper says their biggest customers are the Fortune 500 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) medical device customers in the orthopedic arena.

Advocating to Save California’s Data Centers

Do you think your firm’s critical computer room and data center is hearty enough to survive a catastrophe? Try running it through a real live test, like the ones a Valencia-based firm survived. More reliable than any comic book superheroes, WorkSafe Technologies earthquake-resistant equipment survived one of the world’s largest earthquakes, and another of the world’s most damaging ones. There are no tougher quality tests that the company could have conducted, nor any seals of approval which would have demonstrated the worthiness of its products. Now in its 25th year in business, the firm has already sold over 200,000 of its ball bearing-loaded platforms – the ISO-Base isolators – to protect sensitive computer and information technology infrastructure in a disaster.

Fundraiser Benefits Firefighters Whose Homes Burned

As firefighters battled the onslaught of blazes from the Sand Fire, protecting properties in Santa Clarita and elsewhere, four of those same firefighters lost their own homes to the wildfires. To help them, a local movie ranch hosted a benefit to raise money for the firefighters and their families on Sept. 10. Habitat for Humanity, San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valley, supported the event.

Lloyd Sreden Remembered

Accountant Lloyd Sreden lost his battle with cancer on June 27. He helped shape Stern, Kory, Sreden & Morgan into a trusted CPA firm, and was committed to supporting community causes and organizations focused on making the Santa Clarita Valley an even better place to live, work, and play. He was a board member of the SCV Rotary Club, the William S. Hart Baseball and Softball League, and the Hart High School Baseball Booster Club, and a past member of the SCV Chamber of Commerce board. He will be deeply missed by his wife, three children, co-workers, colleagues and friends.

Bringing a Touch of Magic to Television and the World
When Mark Wilson and his wife Nani Darnell began their TV magic show in 1954, there had been no magic on the air except on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and there had never been a magic series on the relatively new medium of television. They convinced skeptical sponsors that viewers would accept magic on TV, and launched a legendary career. These days, Wilson and Darnell also run a 5,000-square-foot magic warehouse in Santa Clarita that rents magic props to professional magicians and to television and movie projects.

OCTOBER

Special Report on Old Town Newhall

It was once a lagging downtown with businesses that lost their sparkle, but Old Town Newhall is making a remarkable transition to a vibrant arts, entertainment and dining district. The plan is to reshape the area and make it more welcoming to pedestrians. With new boutiques, bars, and restaurants as well as live theater venues, the aim is to transform the downtown from a place that empties out after dark to a spot where residents and visitors from other communities could congregate – and spend their dollars. Commercial real estate broker Tim Crissman has been involved with Main Street in Old Town Newhall since 1983, when he started with Merrill Lynch Realty. “My very first transaction was selling the building to open Abe’s Pawn Shop, which remains to this day,” he recalled. “In fact, it’s probably the third oldest business on the block.” Crissman says many of the clients he first worked with in Old Town still own property there, and his firm continues to manage and lease those properties for them. “I developed a philosophy back then that I was going to change Newhall one property at a time,” he said.

Old Town Vision: Refocusing a Fading Retail District

Redevelopment of Old Town Newhall has been a work in progress for almost 20 years, and in recent times efforts to revitalize the downtown area have gained momentum. After having overcome setbacks delivered by the state government and a nationwide economic recession, downtown Newhall appears poised for sizable steps forward in the not too distant future. The Newhall redevelopment effort got under way when the Santa Clarita City Council established the Newhall Redevelopment Project Area in 1997 to revitalize the downtown area, and that was what started the funding mechanism for the revitalization of Old Town Newhall. In 2005, the city adopted the Old Town Newhall Specific Plan, and that has been the guiding vision and policy document that outlines Old Town Newhall would become.

Art House Movies, Retail Space, Parking Added to Help Anchor the District
With its numerous soundstages and movie ranches, Santa Clarita is a hub for Hollywood film and TV production. So, perhaps it’s fitting that a Laemmle Theatre, one of the most storied art house movie chains in the Los Angeles region, should become a downtown fixture of Newhall’s redevelopment plan. The plan calls for three projects. The first is at the corner of Lyons and Railroad – a two-story, seven-screen Laemmle art house movie theater, with 2,300 square feet of retail or restaurant space. On Lyons and Main Street will be Newhall Crossing – 47 residential units and approximately 20,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. On the southern-most corner of that block, at Railroad Avenue and Ninth Street, is the city’s 374-space parking structure.

With Gateway V Walls Tilted Up, Project Starts to Take Shape

Workers began tilting up the walls of Santa Clarita Valley’s newest industrial and office development project, Gateway V, in September. The 13-acre Valencia development, the first of its kind in Santa Clarita in 10 years, is part of the largest master-planned industrial project and center for business technology and industry in Los Angeles County, and it comes at a time when industrial space is at a premium. The ownership group, MCA Gateway V, LLC, purchased the three lots from Gateway V, LLC in April of this year. Brokers Craig Peters and Doug Sonderegger represented both sides of this transaction. The site sits off the 126 Highway at Commerce Center Drive and Interstate 5.

Santa Clarita Resident Richard Cook Moves Up at JPL

Santa Clarita resident Richard Cook was named associate director for Flight Projects and Mission Success at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Prior to his new role, Cook served as JPL’s deputy director for Solar System Exploration since 2013. He held several JPL leadership positions in the Mars Exploration Program, including manager and deputy manager for the Mars Science Laboratory Project during development and operations. In those roles, he was responsible for design, development, launch and operations of the Curiosity rover, which successfully landed on Mars in August 2012 and continues beaming back images and data.

Northrop Grumman Exec Offers Potential Suppliers a ‘How To’ Talk

If you’re a supplier to the aerospace industry, and you want to do business with Northrop Grumman, there are ground rules you need to know. The first is, “Do your homework.” Kevin Mitchell, vice president of global supply chain at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, the world’s fifth-largest defense contractor, addressed more than 70 aerospace business leaders at the SCV Aerospace & Defense Coalition (ADC) breakfast in October, and he gave the audience some pointers on becoming a supplier to the company.

Bayless Manufacturing Sells Buildings for Reported $12 Million

Bayless Manufacturing Inc., a Valencia metal fabricator and precision machine shop since 1989, sold its two buildings for around $12 million, according to Los Angeles commercial real estate brokerage CBRE Group Inc. The buyer was Sierra Nevada Investment Group Inc., an industrial real estate investment firm in Los Angeles. Bayless signed a six-year lease with Sierra Nevada as part of the sale-leaseback deal. The buildings, at 26100 and 26140 Avenue Hall at Avenue Stanford in the Valencia Industrial Center, were on the market for six weeks, said Robert Valenziano, a broker with CBRE who represented Bayless with CBRE broker Craig Peters. Craig Lyon of Craig Lyon Commercial and Steve Calhoun at Colliers International represented the buyer.

Scorpion’s New Multimillion-Dollar Headquarters

Scorpion is preparing to break ground on its new eco-friendly, employee-focused headquarters, next to the Sunkist building on Entertainment Drive. The internet marketing firm is hoping to help establish the Santa Clarita Valley as an important tech hub, the firm said in a statement. Building in Santa Clarita affords the proximity of the downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood metropolitan areas while maintaining affordable housing and a family-friendly lifestyle for employees, the company said.  “We chose Santa Clarita Valley as our permanent home because our employees live and thrive here, and we see it shaping into the epicenter of a tech hub that spreads across Los Angeles County,” Scorpion CEO and founder Rustin Kretz said in a statement.

Lost Canyon Apartments Sold for $61 Million

The Townhomes at Lost Canyon, an apartment complex in Santa Clarita, has sold for $61 million, according to its buyer, Beverly Hills real estate investor Kennedy-Wilson Holdings Inc. The company bought the complex at 18179 W. Terra Verde Place for $388,535 per unit. The seller was Resmark Cos., which bought the complex in 2013 for an undisclosed price. CBRE Capital Markets’ Debt & Structured Finance team secured $43 million of debt financing for the acquisition of the property.

NOVEMBER

Six Hard-Learned Lessons for Businesses

Most new businesses close the doors after a very short period of time. Eighty percent of start-ups fail within two years. About 4 percent of firms survive to the five-year mark. Staying in business beyond that, well, the odds are very slim. Despite those odds, J&M Events celebrated being in business 36 years earlier this year. Founded and led by Jorge Lopez, the business has grown, stumbled, gone sideways and has matured into a full service entertainment and production company. As many owners realize, starting and growing a business is the most difficult job they could ever sign up for. The hardships are many; the learning curve is steep, long and expensive. And while the rewards can be generous, they can also be fleeting. Lopez attributes his business longevity to six main lessons, some which he continues to seeking mentoring on even now.

Hypertension Controlling Device eCoin Enters the Next Stage of Testing

Medical device maker Valencia Technologies received federal approval to begin human testing for its small implantable device designed to control hypertension. The device, called the eCoin, is intended to help patients with drug-resistant hypertension. The coin-sized devices can be implanted in 20 minutes using local anesthetic. They are implanted in both of a patient’s forearms, and the two neurostimulators help control the subject’s blood pressure. Jeff Greiner, CEO of Valencia Technologies, said that the ultimate goal is to eliminate the need for medications used to treat hypertension. The first stage of testing will focus on the toughest to treat patients, those who are on three or more medications.

Island Blu, VaiWai Making a Splash with Natural Artesian Water from Fiji

Mala and Pramesh Sharma believe that their two natural artesian water offerings, Island Blu and VaiWai, both imported from Fiji, are just the beverages to quench Southern Californians’ thirst. Island Blu Natural Artesian Water is drawn from a pristine rainforest aquifer under certified organic farm land in Namosi. The fledgling company, based in Valencia, has been selling water bottled from the couple’s homeland since June. Rajeshni is the company’s owner and Pramesh is CFO. They came to Southern California from Fiji Island 35 years ago. The company’s other brand, VaiWai  – “Vai” means water in Polynesian, and “Wai” means water in Fijian – is the same water, but in biodegradable bottles. They’re up against some marketing powerhouses, including Voss and Fiji Water. “Fiji Water is a one billion dollar industry in America,” said Pramesh. “If we get one percent of that we’ll be happy.”

Matrix Concepts Revving Up its Line of Motorcycle, Bicycle Accessories

Eddie Cole parlayed a love of motocross racing into a lucrative business, creating products, parts and accessories for motorcycles and high-end bicycles. A longtime Santa Clarita resident, Cole’s lifelong interest in off-road motorcycle racing began when he was young. From the ages of 16 to 20, practically all he did was ride a motorcycle. His passion developed into a number of businesses related to the sport. He opened his first company in Valencia in 1976, and is now CEO of Matrix Concepts, which was founded by his sons Chadd and Cameron as a school project. Matrix employs a staff of around a dozen. The company’s products for the off-road motorcycle community include garage and track necessities, such as motorcycle stands, loading ramps, tie-downs, utility cans and rubber work mats – accessories for working on or transporting motorcycle.

Employers praised for programs to hire individuals with disabilities

Feeling challenged? Nearly 200 Santa Clarita business and community leaders gathered in support of hiring individuals with disabilities at the Mayor’s Committee for Employment of Individuals with Disabilities. Some of Santa Clarita’s largest employers were recognized hiring those challenged by some of life’s every day activities. “I am so proud to be in Santa Clarita and be surrounded by so many business professionals helping individuals with disabilities,” said committee President Ken Wiseman, also CEO and managing partner along with President Jay Catlin of AMS Fulfillment. A luncheon titled “Educate, Empower, Employ” featured information for employers on federal and state law, and representatives from the Department of Rehabilitation spoke to business owners about available tax credits.

Quest Diagnostics’ Women in Leadership network wins ACE award

A Quest Diagnostics business network designed to help women advance in the business world won a prestigious award for its work in helping women reach higher leadership positions at the nationwide clinical laboratory services corporation. The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) named Quest Diagnostics’ Women in Leadership Employee Business Network the winner of the 2016 HBA Advancement, Commitment, Engagement (ACE) award, recognizing internal leadership programs that advance the careers of women in their respective organizations.

SCV Economic Development Corp. Receives Award

The Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation (SCVEDC) received a Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award for its 2016 Still Golden Campaign project in the category of Special Purpose Print Brochure from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The honor was presented at an awards ceremony in Cleveland in September. “We are very proud to be honored amongst our peers of economic development organizations nationwide,” said Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corporation. “Our Still Golden campaign continues to highlight the Santa Clarita Valley as a place of entrepreneurial opportunity for companies large and small.”

BioSolar Working to Make Batteries Cheaper, More Efficient

Question: What do a cell phones, Tesla electric cars and solar panels have in common? Answer: Lithium-ion batteries, the compact, lightweight batteries used to power devices that you no doubt carry around with you every day. BioSolar, a Santa Clarita-based research and development firm wants to make those energy-storing devices perform better, charge faster and cost less. According to CEO and President David Lee BioSolar, the time is ripe for development of new battery technology. “There is a hot pursuit of better, newer chemistry, and better, newer battery technologies that will provide them higher capacity,” said Lee. “That means you can have a smaller battery that will have the same functions (as a larger one) in a device.”

E-commerce, Parcel Delivery Help Postage One Continue to Grow

For Postage One, it’s all about saving money when you send mail and packages. A 47-cent piece of mail may cost a Postage One customer 45 or 43 cents depending on volume, and that can add up to thousands of dollars in savings over the course of a year. That’s the backbone of the business, which is officially known as a “presort bureau.” Carriers pick up mail and packages and Postage One sorts it at its Valencia facility and combines it for ease of delivery by the U.S. Postal Service. They save the post office time, and in turn the post office offers them a price break, which Postage One passes on to its clients.

Sunvair Relocates to Larger Building, Plans Plating Facility

Sunvair, the Valencia-based firm that specializes in overhauling aircraft landing gears, recently moved its operation into a larger plant, nearly tripling the 28,000 square feet it occupied in its former space to about 88,000 square feet in its new location. The move came about after the company outgrew its last building, but the new location also provides space for improvements to their shop capabilities, including a new nickel and chrome plating facility. Plating facilities play a crucial role in the landing gear overhaul work the company does, and the kind of plating the new facility will handle is not easy to find in this region, said Mike Dann, Sunvair’s vice president of sales and business development.

A summary of the top business stories from December 2016 will appear in the January 2017 issue of the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal.

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2016 Was a Strong Year for Santa Clarita Valley Business

Attendees discuss the artist's rendering on display at the official ground breaking ceremony at the site of the new Logix Headquarters building in Valencia. Dan Watson/The Signal

Here are the top business stories of 2016, as covered in the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal.

JANUARY

JSB Development to Start Second Project

After holding onto a parcel for a decade, JSB Development decided to develop the parcel, off McBean Parkway near where The Greens’ miniature golf course and restaurant once stood. The five-story project includes 60 apartments ranging from studios to two-bedroom units, above 10,000 square feet of retail and office space, and an underground parking garage. The project is near the Santa Clarita Transit Center, the paseo network, and Westfield Valencia Town Center. The development is near the corner of McBean and Valencia Blvd., where a developer plans to build a hotel called The Oliver. JSB Development is a Santa Clarita firm with multiple projects in the works, including the masterplan community of Vista Canyon.

Ktech Launches Second Company

Ktech Telecommunications Inc., maker of products for digital broadcast and cable companies, relocated to Valencia, earned a state business tax credit, and launched a new line of business. Ktech was an early entry in the development of microchip technology used for high-definition television (HDTV). The 20-year-old company moved from Chatsworth to an 8,000-square foot space on Avenue Crocker. The new venture, iXT Manufacturing Solutions, LLC, provides engineering and circuit assembly services to other companies, with a focus on light-emitting diode (LED) products for medical and industrial clients in need of high-reliability products. Ktech, only the second Santa Clarita company to earn a California Competes Tax Credit, received a $100,000 credit in exchange for committing to invest $720,000 and adding at least four full-time employees over four years.

 

Local Firms Relieved at Renewal of Export-Import Bank

The Export-Import Bank, a federal agency, was shuttered for five months after Congress allowed its charter to expire for the first time in its 81-year history, then revived as part of a transportation bill signed by President Obama. The bank makes and guarantees loans to help foreign customers buy U.S. goods. Locally, aerospace manufacturers say the bank helps level the competitive playing field since other countries provide similar support to their companies. The bank authorized $20 billion worth of transactions in 2015, which supported $27.5 billion in U.S. exports and 164,000 American jobs, said U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R.-Ill.

Burbank Airport Overhaul Holds Hope for Local Travelers

Long-delayed plans to replace the aging and cramped terminal at Bob Hope Burbank airport (since rebranded as Hollywood Burbank Airport) moved forward, held out hope that the nearest airport to the Santa Clarita Valley will open a new chapter by the early 2020’s. The airport will still have 14 gates, but the terminal will be farther from the runways for safety reasons and will have 70 percent more space for passenger amenities. In November, Burbank voters passed Measure B with 69 percent of voters, which authorized the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority to proceed with the $400-million project, which the authority has supported since it was formed in 1978.

Second Newhall Building Sold to Investors

A historic building at the corner of Main and Market Streets in the heart of Old Town Newhall was sold to an investment group for close to asking price. The 8,450-square foot, two-story retail and commercial building was best known as home to Work Boots Warehouse, which moved to Lyons Ave. since the sale closed. “Investors see tremendous opportunities in the area,” said Tim Crissman, of Crissman Commercial Services, Inc. “They’ve seen the renaissance that has been ongoing and it’s only going to get stronger.” The building is on the site of the Southern Hotel, a semi-colonial style two-story hotel that opened in 1887 that burned down decades ago. A mural of the hotel adorns the side of the current building. The building is in the heart of the historic downtown district, near two live theaters and restaurants.

Outlook 2016: Jobs and Connecting with Employees

Job were predicted to grow by 2,000 in 2016, said Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp., with the greatest growth in the logistics sector including transportation, warehousing and utilities, construction and government. The toughest challenge for companies looking to hire is finding the people they’re looking for, particularly people who live here in the Santa Clarita Valley, said Keri Aaver, director of the local WorkSource Center.

City and County Celebrate “Princess Cruises Day”

The 50th anniversary of Santa Clarita-based Princess Cruises was celebrated by the city and LA County. The cruise line entered its first-ever float in the Tournament of Roses Parade, and reunited the cast of the TV show “The Love Boat” which is credited with launching the modern cruise industry during its 1977-1986 run. Princess is the third-largest cruise line in the world, with a fleet of 18 ships and more than 30,000 employees who serve 1.7 million travelers a year.

KB Homes Wins Water-Sense Award from EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a 2015 WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award to KB Home, a long-time builder in the Santa Clarita Valley. The award recognizes efforts to make homes more water efficient with products that meet the EPA’s WaterSense standards. KB’s WaterSense-labeled homes save an estimated 3 million gallons of water daily. KB Home is one only a few homebuilders in California to take part in the program, and the only one that is building homes in the Santa Clarita Valley. Other local WaterSense participants include the City of Santa Clarita, Castaic Lake Water Agency, which owns the Santa Clarita Water Division, Newhall County Water District, and the Valencia Water Company.

Outlook 2016: Filming

With more than 533 permits for location shooting (up from 460 the previous year) 2015 was a strong year for filming in Santa Clarita, said Evan Thomason, economic development associate with the city’s Film Office. He anticipated another strong year in 2016, as a tight market for studio space throughout LA County helps fill studio space here. The state’s new film and TV tax credit program was also expected to drive an increase in filming activity.

Outlook 2016: New Housing

Housing starts in Los Angeles and Ventura counties were expected to hold steady, with nearly 21,000 new units, of which three quarters are multi-family units. Building and delivering houses at an affordable price point was seen as the biggest challenge by Michelle Weedon, Senior Vice President, Advisory of Meyers Research. “We have very limited new home/rental inventory; we can’t build enough homes to house our growing population.”

FEBRUARY

IT Healthcare Firm Launches with Perfect Timing

MTS Healthcare announced plans to move its workforce from Pasadena to the Santa Clarita Valley with plans for growth. “We are a cloud computing company and IT service provider that works exclusively with healthcare organizations across the U.S. hosting electronic medical records applications,” said James Deck, founder and CEO. The company is developing a second tool for medical groups, a kiosk that allows patients to check in on their own when going to their doctors and make any required copayments. “It relieves front desk staff so they can focus more on patient care and billing,” Deck said. He said his firm’s primary goal is to make it easier for doctors to focus on their primary mission of providing care to patients, by reducing the complexity and costs of IT services.

Sunkist: Profile of a Growers’ Cooperative

After more than 40 years in Sherman Oaks, Sunkist Growers Inc. moved its headquarters to N. Entertainment Dr. in Valencia. “Relocating our headquarters was a business decision to bring our operations closer to our growers, the heart of our business, while keeping our current employee base intact,” said Russ Hanlin, President and CEO. “The local community has been very welcoming during the entire process, and we are proud to welcome our business partners from all over the world to Sunkist’s new home in Valencia.” Sunkist is the world’s largest citrus cooperative, marketing millions of cartons of fresh citrus internationally.

Refrigerated Door Company Relocates to Santa Clarita

CDS Doors LLC relocated to the Santa Clarita Valley to accommodate its growth in the market for freezer and cooler glass display doors for supermarkets and other retail outlets. The company moved from San Fernando to a nearly 50,000-square-foot building on Sierra Highway in Canyon Country that once housed Morton Manufacturing. “It was always our goal to own a facility in order to be self-sufficient,” said co-owner Fernando Calderon, who started the company in 2002 with Tim Karnes and Duane Beswick. They drew on decades of experience in the design, engineering and manufacturing of refrigerated glass doors. The company has 40 employees.

Contractor Buys Building He Built and Sold

Westridge Executive Plaza on the Old Road is back in familiar hands, those of Dale Donohoe and Intertex Properties of Valencia, which built Westridge in 2003 and sold it in 2005. The 64,388-square-foot building once housed Pardee Homes, which occupied 10,000 square feet before the housing market crashed, but eventually vacated all its space. “The timing was horrible for the owners,” Donohoe said. “When they bought the property in 2006, they put it on a 10-year loan which expired in December, exactly when they had their lowest occupancy to date.” Intertex sold the building at the height of the market and bought it back for millions less, he said.

SCV Film Studio Sued by CBS, Paramount

Independent film producer Axanar Productions and its owner, Alec Peters, were sued by CBS Studios and Paramount for copyright infringement over a fan film, “Star Trek: Axanar.” Peters is also the founder of Santa Clarita-based Ares Studios. Peters acknowledged that CBS Studios owns all Star Trek copyrights, and said that his production was strictly not for profit. Paramount and CBS sought a judgment that would have stopped production and imposed a $150,000 penalty for each infraction. In May, at the urging of Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin, Paramount dropped the lawsuit. CBS said it was working on guidelines governing fan films.

National Closed-Captioning Service in Santa Clarita

While the National Captioning Institute is based in Chantilly, Va., it has an office in Texas, and now one in Santa Clarita. After more than 20 years in Burbank, the nonprofit moved its California office to nearly 5,000 square feet of space on Constellation Road. The Burbank location, closer to production houses and studios, made sense in the era of moving physical media like video tapes. Digital media makes that proximity less critical, said Jill Toshi, President and CEO. NCI produces 150,000 hours of closed captioning services each year in English and Spanish, reaching millions of viewers, including the hearing impaired and those in noisy places like airports and gyms.

Entertaining the Masses at the Gym

MYE Entertainment moved to a new 8,000-square-foot facility on Westinghouse Place in Valencia. The company, with 18 core employees and another 40 engaged in research and development, designs and manufactures wireless audio technology, including LCD TV audio/video connections for fitness equipment in gyms. MYE works with equipment makers like Cybex, Life Fitness, Matrix, Precor, Octane, Star Trac, StairMaster, and SportsArt. The privately held company ships more than 40,000 wireless receivers and 25,000 LCD TVs a year for the commercial fitness industry.

Plans Temporarily on Hold for Medical Offices, Parking

Plans by Kaiser Permanente to renovate the former U.S. Borax building on Tourney Road were delayed in January, pending review of possible Native American cultural resources. Kaiser is converting the building to new Santa Clarita Specialty Medical Offices. The project also calls for replacement of a four-story parking structure with a larger seven-story garage. The delay came after the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians requested a consultation, which was concluded by March. Kaiser bought the property in 2012, and anticipates opening in 2017, while keeping its current medical office building, also on Tourney Rd., for primary care.

EDC Awards Incentive to Firm for Moving to SCV

After launching the Industry Cluster Attraction Incentive program in partnership with Los Angeles County in 2014, the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. issued a check for $23,694 to Richard Photo Lab in January after the firm relocated to Santa Clarita last year with 38 employees. The money reimbursed fees incurred associated with the relocation including sanitation district fees, which can be onerous and challenging for businesses, said Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCVEDC. The incentive helped remove an obstacle of relocating to the region. Launched with a $200,000 fund to attract new businesses in the area’s target industry clusters, the economic group is able to award up to $40,000 to a business.

MannKind Believes its Troubles are its Opportunity

Reports swirled of a possible sale of MannKind, Santa Clarita biomedical device maker. Reuters reported that MannKind was working with investment bankers on options. In January, MannKind announced a licensing agreement with a Receptor Life Sciences Inc., a Seattle-based group of investors, for technology to deliver via inhaled powder a pharmaceutical ingredient they have proprietary access to. MannKind faced major upheavals in its path toward widespread marketing and sale of its inhalable insulin drug Afrezza. After 10 years of research and development, multiple Food and Drug Administration clinical trials, and finally FDA approval in 2014, a deal with Paris-based Sanofi to market and distribute Afrezza in 2015 fizzled quickly as sales failed to ramp up. Sanofi terminated the agreement.

MARCH

To the Moon and Back for Santa Clarita Firm

Santa Clarita-based Cicoil can lay claim to a rare status: their products directly supported the life of Apollo astronauts. And in a chance opportunity, a long-lost flat cable harness produced by the company came up for auction from a private collection – and came back to the place it was made 50 years later. The flat high performance cables, embedded in lightweight ribbons of materials for maximum flexibility, enabled continuous monitoring of vital signs, such as blood pressure, respiration, body temperature and pulse rate for each astronaut during flight and orbit – and for the spacewalk of Apollo 9 astronauts in 1969. The firm, founded in 1956 to replace stiff bulky cables for companies like IBM and the aerospace industry, moved to Valencia in 1986. It employs 85 and serves clients that include Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Space X.

New Media Team Puts Control of SCV News Group Back in Local Hands

The SCVBJ welcomed new owners last year, the Paladin Multi-Media Group. In a stunning announcement in December 2015, ownership of the 96-year old Signal newspaper and the Business Journal, came home to Santa Clarita. The hometown and homegrown newspaper had been owned by Georgia-based Morris Multimedia group for 37 years. Now privately owned, the Paladin Multi-Media Group consists of Charles F. Champion, longtime business partner Gary Sproule, and former Signal Publisher Russ Briley.

Fulfillment Firm Leases Third Warehouse

Family-owned and operated Valencia Fulfillment leased its third building, 15,000 square feet of additional space on Avenue Stanford in the Valencia Industrial Center. Launched in the garage of President Jose Corona 15 years earlier, Valencia Fulfillment tracks sales of over $3 million annually and employs 40 people. New clients necessitated finding a third building for the growing business. With its main office on Hasley Canyon Road in Castaic, Valencia Fulfillment differs slightly from other fulfillment companies like AMS Fulfillment, he said. While Valencia Fulfillment manages order fulfillment, and maintains and ships inventory to clients, the firm also does some light manufacturing and bulk assembly, often packaging multiple products into kits which then go out to its clients warehouses for distribution.

“NCIS” Celebrates 300th Episode

The long-running TV show “NCIS” starring Mark Harmon celebrated filming its 300th episode at their studio in Santa Clarita in February. The episode aired in March. “It was a lofty benchmark to get to,” said Evan Thomason, economic development associate for the city of Santa Clarita’s Film Office. “It’s almost unheard of in the TV industry. It speaks to the tremendous popularity of one of America’s favorite shows.” A locally-based TV show, “NCIS” is now in its 13th season. Its forerunner was “JAG,” which also filmed in Santa Clarita. “It’s many of the same group of people that have filmed out here for 20-plus years,” said Kelli Lajer, with the city’s film office. “A ton of people now own houses out here; they moved here and raised their families. It’s perhaps the longest running crew ever.”

RV Park Invests $1.1M in Solar Power

Seeking to lower energy bills soaring over $20,000 per month in the summer months, Castaic Lake RV Park invested $1.1 million to install solar panels. The recreational vehicle park opened in 1979 as a KOS – Kampgrounds of America – park. Today, four owner/partners, including two second-generation owners, operate the park on Ridge Route Road, a half mile from Castaic Lake. The four got together and decided to install solar, said Ray Graeber, general manager for the past 25 years. “We applied for a loan in April 2015, but it took the bank over four months to approve it.” The RV park then waited for California Edison’s permission to operate, which came in February. With 103 full hook-up sites plus six overflow sites, along with 200 storage sites for RVs and boats, Castaic Lake RV Park has 309 sites. The owners wanted to increase profits by saving on operating expenses, and be green at the same time, Graeber said.

NAI Capital’s Valencia Office Closes Deals

NAI Capital’s Santa Clarita office wrapped up multiple deals with the $8.8 million sale of a Van Nuys industrial property, and the $2.1 million sale of an industrial property on Avenue Stanford in Valencia – which led to two more deals. Yair Haimoff, executive vice president and branch manager of NAI Capital, sold the 54,597 square foot multi-tenant Gloria Densmore Park consisting of 4 buildings at Gloria and Densmore avenues. Haimoff represented the buyer, REX Investment LLC. The seller was Camillus T. and Phyllis V. Decinces. The total sale price was $8,783,000. In a deal which also closed escrow in February, Haimoff represented the seller on the $2.1 million sale of a 17,775 square foot freestanding building on a 32,000 square foot property at 25334 Avenue Stanford. Haimoff represented the seller, Flight Logistics Inc., and Matt Sreden from NAI Capital’s Valencia office represented the buyer, D-Rock LLC.

Printing Technology Solutions Firm Moves to SCV

After growing their print services company into one which harnesses hardware and software technology solutions to fit its clients’ workflow processes, Image 2000 relocated to Santa Clarita. Purchasing a building appraised at $2.9 million in the Valencia Industrial Center in a 1031-exchange, for property owned in Van Nuys, the 120-employee company simply needed more warehouse space as it expanded its services to multiple locations including Fresno, Bakersfield, Buena Park, Orange County, Inland Empire and Las Vegas, NV, said an executive. “We wanted more warehouse space than we could get in Van Nuys, which lacked quality warehouse space for a reasonable price,” said CEO Joe Blatchford. “And there’s a better of quality of life in Santa Clarita.” The new space has 22,500 square feet of space.

Valencia Firm Powers Sound at Super Bowl 50, Grammy Awards

When Super Bowl 50 headed into halftime Feb. 7, Santa Clarita-based ATK Audiotek took over, providing audio and system integration services halftime entertainment, as it had for pregame activities. Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars took the stage to entertain 72,000 fans at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Another 111.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the game. Privately owned by three partners – president Michael MacDonald, CTO/vice president-engineering Scott Harmala, and vice president of special events Mikael Stewart– ATK Audiotek started in Burbank but relocated to Santa Clarita Valley nearly nine years ago. Occupying 55,000 square feet of space for inventory, and with 75 employees, the firm’s been in business for 33 years. Its business is roughly comprised of 60 percent televised events and 40 percent built on integration of systems for other companies.

SCV’s Honda Performance Development Gears Up

Honda renewed its commitment to North America’s IndyCar open-wheel racing series. American Honda and its racing subsidiary, Santa Clarita-based Honda Performance Development (HPD), have an agreement to continue as a manufacturer in the IndyCar Series through 2017, with an option to extend the agreement through the 2020 season. Honda has been a part of open-wheel racing since the founding of the performance center in 1993 when it entered the now retired racing league, Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), in 1994.  HPD operates out of a 167,000-square-foot building in Santa Clarita. The two-story facility houses motorsports research and development operations, including design, development engineering, prototype, and production parts manufacturing. Honda’s success includes 217 race victories, 15 drivers’ championships, six competitive manufacturers’ championships, and 10 Indianapolis 500 victories since 2004.

Hyatt Hotel Changes Hands

The Hyatt Regency Valencia hotel on Town Center Drive in Santa Clarita changed ownership, as Southwest Value Partners Enterprises of San Diego acquired the name-brand hotel for $50.967 million. Built in 1998, the hotel has 244 rooms. With 180,450 square feet, it is the only venue in Santa Clarita with space to host large conferences, luncheons or dinners. Newhall Land & Farming Company built the hotel, with the city contributing money to help expand the conference room at the hotel.

APRIL

Special Report: Crushing the Wine Industry

Whether you make it, gift it, or drink it – the wine industry in Los Angeles County has been crushed by burdensome rules imposed by the county’s health department – and, not only did we shed light on the issues, we discusses major changes in a Special Report. Coverage included a look at California’s winery industry, attempts to build a wine market in Cuba, celebrity vintners, and a look back at the infamous Saugus wine heist.

First Significant Industrial Building in a Decade Breaks Ground

A year after groundbreaking, Phase I of new building construction at the International Airport Centers (IAC) Commerce Center began in April. Construction of the 116-acre business park marks the first significant industrial park to be built in the Santa Clarita Valley in a decade. Sitting on the hills adjacent to the Valencia Commerce Center off Witherspoon Parkway, the IAC Center will ultimately offer 1.3 million square feet of much-needed warehouse space. Vacancy rates have remained at record lows as the recession brought construction nearly to a halt, yet the lack of new building put a stranglehold on some SCV businesses who continued to expand – and for other companies choosing Santa Clarita as their new home.

Auto Club Moving Valencia Claims Unit

The Automobile Club of Southern California moved its Tourney Road operations in Valencia to an office building on Turnberry Lane, a broker for the deal said. Representing the landlord, Great Point Investors, Colliers International senior vice presidents Kevin Fenenbock and John Erickson leased the entire ground floor, some 29,000 square feet, in a building at the Summit at Valencia business park, representing about half the building. “This will be the largest new lease transaction in Santa Clarita for over 10 years,” Fenenbock said.

U.S. Labor Department Obtains $1.1M Judgment Against Gruber Systems and CEO

The U.S. Department of Labor won a million-dollar judgment against Santa Clarita-based Gruber Systems Inc., Gruber Systems Inc. Employee Stock Ownership Plan, and CEO John Hoskinson, accused of misusing employee retirement account funds. Hoskinson also briefly served as the director of the Small Business Development Center in Santa Clarita. A suit, filed as a result an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, alleged that the defendant’s actions resulted in losses to the Gruber employee retirement plan. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ordered Gruber and Hoskinson to pay the company’s employee retirement fund $1.1 million within 30 calendar days of the Jan. 28 judgment. They were fined $220,000 in civil penalties.

Cowboy at Heart, Actor Serves Up Movie Props, Horses and Ranch

Actor and Caravan West Productions owner Peter Sherayko parlayed a movie career, love of acting and many western film roles into a one-stop film ranch in Agua Dulce for “everything western.” Perhaps best known for his role in the movie “Tombstone,” this old cowboy walks, drives and rides by horse the some 2,400 acres of his Agua Dulce ranch – or caravans around the country buying antiques and western memorabilia to survey the property and ensure everything remains pristine and authentically western to the film and television industry. Preserving collection of western guns and rifles, more saddles, cowboys hats, historic costumes, an old general store and a library of 5,000 on the Old West and American history, make Caravan West the one-stop shop for everything from movies to commercials to documentaries. In 2014, Caravan West Productions hosted 47 movies, TV shows, and commercials on the ranch.

$3.1M Loan Finances Apartment Renovation in Santa Clarita

Lending company iBorrow made $3.1 million available to an undisclosed party for the purchase and renovation of two residential properties in Newhall, said the lending company’s executive. Built in 1995, the property sits on about a one-third acre and has four buildings with four units each, said Brian Good, CEO of iBorrow. The loan on the apartment complex includes a 26,747 square foot lot with 16 one- and two-bedroom units. It also includes four two-car parking garages and an additional 24 surface parking lots. The new owner is gutting and rehabbing each unit.

Economists: No Hints of Recession

Economists at the Santa Clarita Economic Outlook Conference said key economic measurements do not point to a recession occurring anytime soon. But if anything is hindering growth locally, it has been the absence of new construction – residential and commercial – in the Santa Clarita Valley, according to Mark Schniepp, director of the California Economic Forecast. “Don’t pack up the recession bags yet,” Schniepp said. “We just don’t see it.” Mark Vitner, senior economist for Wells Fargo, pegged the risk of recession at somewhere between 23 and 25 percent – a number he deemed to be very low risk. The lowest the risk of recession ever gets is 15 percent, he said.

MAY

One Year Later: A Valley Still Disconnected

In the year after the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal published a detailed special report on the lack of access to high speed Internet services for businesses in the region, scant progress was made to develop a cohesive, strategic plan to build up the infrastructure. Progress to date has taken place in silos – by private parties making piecemeal attempts to patch service together. One case is the owners of the Mann Biomedical Park, who invested tens of thousands of dollars to build a world class business park by negotiating a fiber deal with Time Warner, committing to deliver a number of tenants as customers to the provider. “We paid to bring it to the park,” said President Dale Donohoe of Intertex. “We were quoted $150,000, but got down to the ballpark of (paying) tens of thousands less by showing them the number of businesses they’d have hooking up to it.”

Aerospace Firm Lamsco Moves into Ultra-modern Facility

Aerospace supplier Lamsco West Inc. of Santa Clarita opened its 75,000 square foot building on The Old Road by Henry Mayo Drive – a move that cost the company some $4 million to double its space and increase capacity. It completed the move without skipping a beat in supplying high performance parts to its clients. “With the official opening of this new facility, we are absolutely delighted to be cementing the foundations for the next phase of exciting growth at Lamsco,” said CEO Howard Kimberley. Its high-tech computerized machinery is well lit, has heavy duty ceiling insulation that drop the ambient temperature by 10 to 15 degrees, and a special massive environmental ducting system that continuously sucks out dust or debris from the shop. Water used in the manufacturing process is cleaned and recycled, eliminating discharge into the sewer systems.

SCV Hotel Room Demand Exceeded Supply During Gas Leak

The nearly five-month massive leak at the Aliso Canyon gas wells in Porter Ranch drove residents from their homes and into temporary housing within a 50-mile radius of the leak. Declared the worst natural gas leak in U.S. history in terms of its environmental impact, relocating Porter Ranch residents had an unintended economic benefit for hotels and rental properties in the Santa Clarita Valley. In a market already in need of more hotels – and with at least three more planned for the future – demand exceeded supply. Four area hotels were sold out April 11 through 13, and rates were up from last October at 9 of 12 hotels. Still, rates remained below the average rate for a room in a Los Angeles hotel.

Sunset Pointe Plaza Sold to Local Investors

One of the more recognizable office buildings in the Santa Clarita Valley, the three-story, all brick Sunset Pointe Plaza, built in 1988, sitting prominently on The Old Road off I-5 has come home to local ownership. The deal closed April 1, with the sale being reported for $9.1 million. Representing the institutional seller, Blackstone, Colliers International sold the 59,000 square foot building to a group of local investors, who purchased the building as Legacy Holdings Sunset Plaza LLC.

Qiagen: Making Improvements in Life Possible

In May, we profiled Qiagen (pronounced Ky-gen), a firm providing technical and sales support to the life sciences industry, a field that helps improve the quality and standard of life. Qiagen is behind a new blood test for tuberculosis – eliminating the under the skin test of the past – and helped actress Angelie Jolie determine which DNA marker she carried for breast cancer, as well as to exonerate a man in July 2014 who was imprisoned 26 years for a murder he didn’t commit. Working with biological materials like blood, bodily fluids, skin and other body materials, the company creates test kits used by medical personnel to provide reliable diagnoses for patients in laboratories, and scores of hospitals and research centers.

New Beginning for New Beginning Stone

Tile and stone manufacturer New Beginning Stone Inc. decided to relocate from Van Nuys to Santa Clarita, said the commercial broker who helped the company make the selection. Launched in 2000, the company has completed thousands of custom fabrications and installations of granite slab kitchen counters, vanity tops, tub decks, shower walls, fireplace hearths and surrounds, outdoor kitchens and barbeques. New Beginning Stone is moving into the Saugus Industrial Center on Springbrook Ave., said Pamela Verner of SCV Commercial Real Estate Services. The firm represented both the tenant and the landlord – Saugus Industrial Center LLC. In need of larger space, the firm signed a three-year lease on the property, she said. Additional terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Stevenson Ranch Plaza sold for $72.5 million

The Stevenson Ranch Plaza in the Santa Clarita Valley was sold for $72.5 million to InvenTrust Properties Corp. of Illinois. Located at the corner of Pico Canyon and The Old Road, the retail center is anchored by Ralphs, and includes LA Fitness, PetSmart and Stein Mart as tenants. “We are excited to announce the acquisition of Stevenson Ranch Plaza, a premier retail center with a top-tier grocer in one of the largest retail markets in the U.S.,” Michael E. Podboy, Executive Vice President – CFO and CIO of InvenTrust said in a statement. The retail center represents a chance for the property investment company to expand its presence in Southern California, in an area marked by strong residential growth, high traffic, and strong demographics.

Flextronics Building Sold

A state-of-the-art industrial building that houses Flextronics, a high-tech business serving the aerospace, defense, and medical device industries, has been sold to Los Angeles-based Rexford Industrial Realty L.P. Flextronics will continue to operate out of the facility. Located at 28454 Livingston Avenue, the industrial building has 134,287 square feet and sits on nearly 14 acres. CBRE brokers Craig Peters and Doug Sonderegger represented both the buyer and the seller, LNR Gateway V LLC/28454 Livingston, LLC.

Aerospace Firm Moves to Valencia from North Hollywood

Aerospace company Air Bolt Group of North Hollywood signed a 10-year lease in March for an 8,500 square foot building on Avenue Crocker in the Valencia Industrial Center. NAI Capital helped broker the deal. Additional terms of the lease were not disclosed. Air Bolt manufactures latches, struts, buts and bolts for commercial aircraft. “We specifically wanted to be in Santa Clarita because we’re seeing growth in the aerospace industries here and want to be part of it,” said CEO Oscar Ramirez. The company has 20 employees.

Ken & Joe’s Motorcycle Dealer Relocates

Ken & Joe’s, franchise dealers for Honda, Kawasaki and KTM motorcycles, is moving to a new Santa Clarita location at 21616 Golden Triangle, near Centre Pointe Parkway with two other motorcycle dealerships nearby, said Rick Hawn, broker with Realty Executives – Commercial Division. Busting at the seams, finding a new location was tricky, Hawn said because the City of Santa Clarita has strict requirements for motorcycle sales and service. But he was able to help strike a deal on the new space, allowing Ken & Joe’s to expand from 8,000 to 14,000 square feet of space. It had been operating in a smaller building on Bouquet Canyon Road. Ken & Joe’s signed a seven-year lease with two three-year options. Reid, who bought the business in 2011, expects to add a few more employees to the 17 or 18 he already has.

New Life for Art Deco Auditorium

Lundgren Management officials broke ground on a $4.8 million renovation project for the Newhall School District in March that will bring the Newhall Elementary School’s Art Deco auditorium into the modern age while preserving its legacy. Built in 1941, the auditorium has primarily served as storage space since the 1970s. When complete, it will include state-of-the-art audio/visual capabilities, energy-efficient lighting, expanded stage space, improved acoustics and seating for nearly 550. The project will also include the addition of a new outside patio suitable for event receptions.

Mall Morphing into Social Interaction Center

Up to 7,000 square feet of parking lot space at the Westfield Valencia Town Center was set aside to build a restaurant pad at the corner of Citrus Street and Magic Mountain Pkwy. Once built, the space can accommodate one to three restaurants, said Stacie House, a spokesperson with the mall. The latest restaurant development reflects a growing presence of restaurant options at the shopping center which includes the Patios, the standalone drive through Chick-fil-A, a Saddle Ranch Chop House, and a long-awaited Cheesecake Factory, opening in the Fall at the mall. The changing landscape is a trend at malls with the advent of the sharply rising number of Internet shoppers. “We don’t consider ourselves a mall at all,” House said. “While we’re a shopping center where retail exists, we’re also curating a social interaction component, something with entertainment value to socially connect friends and family with all the various events we host.”

JUNE

Special Report: Marijuana Industry
We provided comprehensive coverage of the marijuana industry and its growing impact, including a look at Proposition 64, a proposal to legalize recreational use of pot. The ballot measure passed in November with a 56 percent yet vote. The special report included a look at the new frontier for the nation’s biggest cash crop, a still largely underground, industry, an interview with Lori Ajax, California’s first chief of the state’s Bureau of Medical Marijuana, and analysis of how banks are stuck in the middle, since marijuana is illegal in the eyes of the federal government, but legal in many states. Other stories include the implications in L.A. County as commercial marijuana growers seek to lease industrial warehouse space as grow houses, a look at the scope of the industry, chances that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration might reclassify marijuana, a summary of companies jumping into the industry, and a reminder that not all marijuana crops are ‘bad’ – hemp had been outlawed by the state years ago, but it’s now legal and being used for a range of products from cosmetics to clothing.

Two Grocery-Anchored Retail Centers Sell Within a Month

Bouquet Center in Saugus, anchored by Vons grocery, and the Stevenson Ranch Plaza, anchored by Ralphs, were sold by the Hanley Investment Group within one month. ROIC – Retail Opportunity Investments Corp. – purchased Bouquet Center in a 1031 exchange. The investment group pursues stabilized grocery-anchored shopping centers, and also handles their own rentals. Bold dark blue lease signs went up at the shopping center almost as soon as escrow closed. The Stevenson Ranch Plaza sold for $72.5 million. Ed Hanley and Kevin Fryman of Hanley Investment Group Real Estate Advisors represented both the buyer and the seller, a Los Angeles-based private investor, in the Stevenson Ranch transaction. It is 97 percent leased and was purchased by a self-managed Real Estate Investment Trust, InvenTrust Properties Corp.

Top Commercial Brokers Recognized

The region’s top commercial real estate brokers were honored April 28 by the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation. Twenty-six brokers were honored for the volume of their transactions in the SCV, as well as for their help in attracting firms to the region. Combined, the brokers recognized closed deals on over 2.5 million square feet of space in the region, according to the SCVEDC. CBRE brokers Craig Peters, Doug Sonderegger, Jeff Woolf, Matt Mallers were specifically credited for a transaction the SCVEDC referred to as a big win for the valley and its residents. Last year, in part, the brokers helped Logix Federal Credit Union make the final decision to relocate their headquarters to Santa Clarita, after being based in Burbank since 1937.

Creekside Place Retail Center Sold for $9.65 Million
Escrow closed on the auction held of the Creekside Place retail center on Valencia Blvd., home to anchor tenant Barnes & Noble. The center, built in 1995, went up for auction in late February, within 30 days a buyer surfaced, and by the end of April the deal closed. Ten-Z, formerly Auction.com, handled the sale of the retail center. Bids began at a minimum of $2 million. Although the retail center sits in a prime spot with plenty of visibility, it has witnessed a revolving door of tenants. Only one tenant, the anchor Barnes and Noble, has remained a steady retail outlet. At one point the property was reportedly arrear in property taxes, but it’s unknown who last owned the retail center. The land was originally sold by Newhall Land and Farming to a developer in the ’90s, said a former executive with the company. The winning bid was $9.65 million. Arshia Harrison Refoua was the buyer.

Percussion Legend Remo Belli Dies

Remo D. Belli, 88, founder and CEO of Remo Inc. — the Valencia-based maker of drums accessories, died in April. “It was kind of shocking to everyone,” said Remo Inc. President Brock Kaericher. “He touched a lot of people all around the world.” Like a rock star, Remo Belli never went by his last name. Both he and his company were known simply by one name: Remo. “An innovator, pioneer and icon of the world of percussion, he was an inspiration to us all for breaking new ground and making a difference in the world,” a company statement said. Credited with making drums readily available during the heyday of rock ’n roll, Remo founded his firm in 1957, and invented the first successful synthetic drum skin using Mylar, as traditional animal skins were a problem for drummers in the rain or humidity. He patented the Mylar drum skins — and the rest became history. Remo’s invention became an industry standard.

Newhall Land Folded Into Newly Formed FivePoint

Newhall Land, architects of the Valencia master plan and the future Newhall Ranch community, has been folded into a newly formed FivePoint Holdings LLC. The company, named for the family that once owned thousands of acres used for agricultural purposes before it went into land development, is now part of the FivePoint Holdings, he said. In a complex arrangement, Newhall Land still owns land, Churm clarified. The Newhall Ranch project has been combined with three other mixed-use, master planned communities. “We (FivePoint) remain in the market in the Santa Clarita Valley, however,” Churm said. “Newhall Ranch is very important to us and we’re determined to see it built. Nothing changes in that respect.”

MakerSpace Innovation Movement Arrives at College Campus
Dreamers at College of the Canyons finally have a space of their own to design, engineer or fabricate innovations: the MakerSpace lab at the college’s Valencia campus in Santa Clarita. It’s a creative collaborative work space with cutting-edge tools like 3D printers and laser cutters, along with old fashioned necessities like welding tools. “MakerSpace is a collaborative work space, in contrast to a welding lab where all of your focus is on welding, or electronics where that is the sole focus, MakerSpace will share many of those resources on one spot,” said Ron McFarland, Dean of COC’s School of Applied Technologies. Begun with a $15,000 grant, the MakerSpace equipment will be available to the public by 2017.

Security Intelligence Experts Join News Group Board

Two new board members joined the Paladin Multi-Media Group, owners of The Signal newspaper and Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal. Both new members come out of the security and intelligence industry. Combined, Ronald T. Williams and Stephen Rybar have 60-plus years of high security level intelligence experience. “Ron and Steve are consummate professionals, both of whom I have successfully worked with over the past 14 years,” said Charles F. Champion, CEO, PMMG and publisher of the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. “They are first class investigators and their law enforcement expertise will give The Signal and the rest of the Paladin Multi-Media Group Inc. properties an added dimension to their journalistic effort.”

Urgent Care Offers Bypass to Hospital ER for Some

The opening of a privately owned urgent care center on the campus of the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital may help one business grow and another manage patient care. Staffed with family practice physicians and nurses and equipped to provide laboratory studies, X-rays, laceration repair, fracture evaluation, as well as management of fevers and other illnesses, the urgent care center is owned and operated by Bud Lawrence, MD, an emergency medicine physician and Director of Risk Management in the hospital’s emergency department. Lawrence is also a Santa Clarita resident. Open 12 hours a day, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week patients en route to hospital’s emergency room for non-emergency conditions may instead access the urgent care center – for a lot less money than an emergency room will cost, said a spokesperson for the hospital. And each redirected patient eases the load on hospital operations.

 

Cheesecake Factory Selects Santa Clarita for Newest Restaurant
Santa Clarita residents are finally getting what they’ve long waited for. The Cheesecake Factory is opening its latest outlet on Town Center Drive at the Westfield Valencia Town Center, a spokesperson for the mall confirmed. The Calabasas-based restaurant is planning to operate in 8,000 square feet of retail space formerly occupied by Sunglass Hut, Talbots and the Carlton Hair salon, across from Pottery Barn. The deal for the lease officially closed the week of May 2.

JULY

Giving the Heave-Ho to Captain Hook’s Claw-Cap Hook

Working with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and expecting Federal Drug Administration approval within the year, the Alfred Mann Foundation’s latest innovation will put the 1912 patented prosthetic cap-like hook of Captain Hook in a museum. Providing brain-controlled multi-functionality of prosthetics will help a whole lot of injured people. When the foundation’s latest system version is fully developed and approved, a patient will have up to eight degrees of simultaneous movement, including the movement of all five fingers. “We didn’t build the arm itself; we built the control system for prosthetics called IMES – Implantable MyoElectric Sensor,” said CEO David Hankin. “Previous prosthetics were limited to two points of control. The signaling movement was picked up by sensors on the surface of the skin, but the gets jumbled up with mixed signals. There are great limitations and they’re not intuitive.”

Northwest Timber Giant Operates Center in Santa Clarita

Pacific Northwest timber giant Weyerhaeuser operates only five distribution states in California – and one is in Santa Clarita. Founded in 1900 by Frederick Weyerhaeuser, it is one of the world’s largest private owners of timberlands, owning or managing more than six million acres of timberlands in the United States and another 14 million acres under long-term licenses in Canada. Santa Clarita’s center has operated locally for more than 20 years, having opened in March of 1995. It serves retail dealer locations throughout the area with residential building materials. The Santa Clarita Distribution handles approximately 21,000 orders a year, she said.

Aerospace Engineering, Plus Cello Instruction, Equals Math App for Kids

One of the hardest parts of learning math for kids is going over and memorizing multiplication and division tables. Software engineer and mathematician Alex Bozman wants to make the tedious job of learning by rote a little easier and a lot more fun. With his recently released math game, “Bubbly Primes,” available via the Apple online app store since mid-December, he aims to help kids master the necessary but dull parts of learning. Bozman’s company, Nuhubit Software Studios LLC, is based in Santa Clarita, and the company’s name has a local connection, too. The village “Nuhubit” (now Newhall) is where the Tataviam people, the Native Americans who inhabited the Santa Clarita region sometime before 450 AD, lived.

Kadenze Delivers Arts, Media and Tech Education Worldwide

Finding top-level courses in the arts can be tough. The lack of access to arts education for many people inspired Ajay Kapur, director of music technology at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Last year, he and a group of techies and artists that include CalArts faculty and alumni launched Kadenze, a firm dedicated to bringing advanced education to the world. They built an online platform from scratch that provides an interactive virtual classroom offering arts, media and technology courses online for credit. “Being here in Santa Clarita, we’re right next to Cal Arts, we have a very strong relationship with a number of the professors here. Sixty percent of the company is alumni of Cal Arts.” Locating the company in Santa Clarita has a great many benefits, says Kapur.

Advrtas Lets Advertisers Present a Panoramic Feast for Your Eyes

Most online advertisements show you a picture or a video of a product, but technology from a Santa Clarita-based firm is throwing an entirely new light on electronic marketing. Advrtas, virtual reality software by Outlyer Technologies, lets advertisers present a 360-degree view of any product or location that they wish to market. The 360-degree views are made possible by Outlyer’s patent-pending Panamorphic technology. The company’s CEO and founder, Robert Bruza, says that this technology enables advertisers to pack a relatively small area – the space an ad occupies on a Smartphone or tablet screen – full of rich media. He likens it to “building a rabbit hole” in a little space on the Web.

Indy 500 Delivers Big Win for Santa Clarita Firm and Resident

It was like the running of the bulls in Spain, only these were mechanical bulls – race cars – driving at speeds up to 230 mph in the 100th running of the Indy 500 on Memorial Day Weekend. And while the race is in Indianapolis, Indiana, it was a Santa Clarita company, a Valencia team owner, and a California driver who won the legendary brickyard race. Low on fuel, IndyCar rookie Alexander Rossi outlasted his faster rivals earning a stunning victory for Bryan Herta of Valencia’s Bryan Herta Autosport and the Andretti Autosport team. The two teams formed their partnership earlier this year.

Mutual Fund Caters To Formula One Fans

John Foti’s passion for Formula One racing can be found in the form of a scar from a burning ember that landed on his shoulder in 1991 when the international series raced in downtown Phoenix, AZ in 1991. Foti, head of Grand Prix Investors Fund in Lancaster,  sitting so close to the track that when the cars accelerated from their standing start, a spark from one of the cars landed on his shoulder – the ember burning a hole through his Ferrari sweatshirt, only to leave its mark. Foti offers small investors and diehard race fans of the Formula One series a chance to invest in the partnering, sponsoring, or supplying companies that are directly or indirectly are involved with Formula One – focusing on publicly traded securities.

Landscape Development Buys Thousand Oaks Landscape Firm

Valencia-based Landscape Development Inc. acquired Thousand Oaks-based Enhanced Landscape Management in the San Fernando Valley. Landscape Development said it made the asset purchase of the $7.5 million dollar maintenance company in May. The SFV company has been in business for 12 years.  Enhanced Landscape Management serviced West Los Angeles and Ventura counties, which gives Santa Clarita’s Landscape Development enhanced service coverage in those areas, said owner and CEO Gary Horton. “It helps balance our firm with greater recurring revenue vs. just construction revenue; giving us an improved tilt toward the recurring business side,” Horton said. “They (Enhanced Landscape) have a strong brand name in Ventura County and West Los Angeles – it’s a high-end brand.”

Santa Clarita Firm Wins Awards for Outdoor Lighting

Visual Terrain, a Santa Clarita lighting design firm, has been awarded three prizes in the 2016 Illumination Awards of Merit, awarded by the Illumination Engineering Society of North America. It was recognized for its achievement in all three of its areas of expertise: architecture, attractions, and the arts. Visual Terrain won lighting design awards for Dollywood Emporium (architecture), Laff Track (attractions), and Rays (the arts). In all three cases, the firm designed the special effects lighting and worked with partners to ensure a successful implementation.

SetPoint Medical Inks Deal at Mann Biomedical Park

Biomedical device maker SetPoint Medical is moving into the Mann Biomedical Park in Santa Clarita, joining companies like Boston Scientific, the Alfred Mann Foundation, MannKind and Bioness. SetPoint is working on treating patients with debilitating inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It uses bioelectronic therapy using a proprietary, implantable device which helps regulates the central nervous system, which in turn regulates the body’s immune system. Moving into 14,000 square feet of space, SetPoint has 25 employees. It signed a deal with park owner, Intertex, with the help of broker Tim Crissman from Crissman Commercial Services, Arnold said.

Valencia Hotel Proposal Delayed

The Santa Clarita City Council had intended to send a revised planning project for a 134-room Valencia hotel to the Planning Commission in mid-June, but the matter was derailed temporarily by an unresolved matter from 2009. The Oliver Hotel Group LLC submitted a revised proposal in March 2016 for a hotel on property off McBean Parkway in Valencia where a Sheraton Hotel was once proposed. But City Council must conclude an appeal filed in 2009 with the original Sheraton proposal for a 136,000-square-foot, 88-foot-tall, 200-room hotel.

Santa Clarita Film Projects Receive State Tax Credits

The first round of film projects eligible for the state’s film tax credit program run by the California Film Commission included two that film in the Santa Clarita Valley. July 1 marks the beginning of the state’s second fiscal year of the expanded Film & Television Tax Credit Program. HBO’s “Westworld” and USA Network’s “Shooter,” produced by Paramount TV and Mark Wahlberg and adapted from his 2007 feature. Both are filming in Santa Clarita at local studios, movie ranches and locations around the city. Another TV project, “Four Stars,” has also filmed locally.

Red Lobster Land Sold on Restaurant Row

The land and building where Red Lobster operates on restaurant row in Valencia has been sold for the full asking price of $3,576,642, said the broker who represented longtime land owner Marquis Valley View LLC. The transaction closed May 31. It was sold to the Simonian Family 2008 Trust. Red Lobster, which has five years left on its lease, is planning to continue operating in place by leasing the space from the new owner, investor Samuel Simonian, Haimoff said.

Construction Begins at Hobby Lobby Store

The former Orchard Supply Hardware store on Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus is being prepared for the summer opening of a Hobby Lobby arts and craft store. “The garden center of the former OSH store is being demolished for construction of a 5,400 square foot addition to prepare for the future Hobby Lobby store,” confirmed Jason Crawford, economic development manager for the city of Santa Clarita. “The addition was approved on Dec. 18, 2015.” The doors of OSH were shuttered by the larger hardware supply chain Lowe’s in October 2013, shortly after Lowe’s acquired the smaller chain.

AUGUST

Special Report:  Multigenerational Santa Clarita Manufacturers

In August, we profiled six Santa Clarita manufacturing firms that have not only survived; they have managed to hand the firms down through generations of family members – from fathers to daughters, and fathers to sons. These multigenerational, family-owned and operated firms are small businesses that have all helped keep the economic wheels turning in the manufacturing industry. The firms are Al Hirth Machining Inc., Advanced Technology Machining/TECC Grinding, Marathon Industries, Precision Designs (doing business as sPOD), Safari Straps Inc., and Luran Inc. And although industry studies give California’s business climate poor grades due to the high cost of doing business, these firms are living proof that there are benefits to manufacturing in California.

Valencia Industrial Complex Sold

A five-building, multi-tenant warehouse located in the Valencia Commerce Center sold for $64.5 million. Jones Lang LaSalle Income Property Trust in Chicago acquired the five-building property from Clarion Partners in a deal that closed June 30. “The portfolio’s prime infill location in close proximity to Interstate 5 should allow us to attract and retain tenants and capture this market’s strong rent growth potential,” Allan Swaringen, CEO and president of JLL Income Property Trust, said in a statement. Located at 28145 Harrison Parkway, the warehouses total nearly 400,000 square feet of space. The property is 95 percent leased according to JLL’s filings.

Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal Wins National Award

The Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal won a first-place national award for its coverage of the business community’s frustration over the lack of high-speed internet infrastructure in the Valley. Competing against news publications from throughout the country, the SCVBJ was awarded first place by the National Newspaper Association for its series titled “A Disconnected Valley” which first began in May 2015. The award makes the publication a national journalism award winner for the first time.

Oliver Hotel Group Buys 4-Acre Property

The Oliver Hotel Group LLC, developers of the proposed Valencia hotel adjacent to the Hyatt Regency Valencia, purchased the 3.75 acre site from the State Bank of Texas. Brown Nester Hospitality Services represented both the seller and the buyer. The deal closed June 30. Terms were not disclosed. The site of the proposed hotel is located off McBean Parkway at Valencia Blvd. where a Sheraton Hotel was once proposed. Chuck Nester, president of Westlake Village-based Brown Nester Hospitality Services, founded in 1948, brokered the deal. The firm is experienced in managing, branding, insuring and selling hotel properties. It also works with banks holding hotel properties in default.

Wine Makers Still Waiting for Updated County Rules

Santa Clarita wine makers had hoped that outdated rules for making wine would be updated by allowing them to compete with other regions in the state. However, the proposed changes are still making their way through the review process by the Los Angeles County’s Office of County Counsel. The office provides advice and counsel to the Board of Supervisors on any ordinance change. While California has been a major player in the wine market worldwide, wine makers in Los Angeles County have been held back by decades-old rules, which winemakers consider arcane, that classify wine crush facilities as food processing plants. The classification imposes expensive undue regulations, the winemakers say. And they’ve been lobbying for change for the better part of a decade.

Large Industrial Park Steps Up to Save H2O

Three parties working behind the scenes for the better part of a year brokered a deal to save water on a giant scale when the Castaic Lake Water Association, Valencia Commerce Center Association, and the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. sealed a five-year deal to replace lawns and save water. We’re talking “big water savings” here – water savings that might put a dent in the pressure to save that homeowners in the valley have felt over the past couple years. The water savings translate to 16.3 million gallons annually, according to Dirk Marks, CLWA’s water resources manager.

Holistic Pet Food Company Leases Larger Space

Holistic dog and cat food company, Pets Global Inc. of Santa Clarita, leased a 35,310 square foot industrial building on Industry Drive. The deal closed June 1. Matt Dierckman of CBRE represented the landlord. The Aronoff Brothers own the building. David Hoffberg at Delphi Business Properties represented the tenant Pets Global. The lease is for five years. The property is located at 28334 Industry Drive. Their pet foods are branded as Zignature for canine companions and Fussie Cat for the feline companion. The foods are also AAFCO – Association of American Feed Control Officials – approved.

MannKind to Promote Its Inhalable Insulin
After a disappointing partnership with pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, Valencia-based MannKind Corporation is launching its own campaign to market Afrezza, its inhalable insulin product for diabetics. Paris-based Sanofi gave notice in January that the company intended to terminate its licensing agreement with MannKind for global distribution of the medication. Since then, MannKind has been developing a sales and marketing force of its own to pick up where Sanofi left off – a first for the Valencia firm. Newly hired Chief Commercial Officer Michael Castagna is building and heading up the nascent sales and marketing operation.

SEPTEMBER

Special Report: Santa Clarita’s Film Industry

This edition highlighting Santa Clarita’s film industry included contributions from many partners who helped us bring these industry stories and photos together – from the city of Santa Clarita film office, to our movie ranches, film production people who gave us a behind the scenes peek at the industry, and companies that make up our thriving film industry. Coverage included a look local producers of sound and music for TV and films, USA Network’s drama “Shooter,” which is, well, shot here, a new Netflix show named for Santa Clarita, a profile of Lifton Institute of Media Arts and Sciences, moves to support smaller productions, new rules affecting drones in filming, and a comprehensive listing of shows and movies based in or filmed on location in Santa Clarita.

Raging Inferno: When Life Imitates Art

The Sand Fire started out small, burning just a quarter of an acre of brush on the south side of Highway 14 near Sand Canyon Road in Santa Clarita on Friday, July 22. Brush fires in the summer are. It was expected that firefighters would quickly put the flames out.  Steve Arklin Jr., family members, friends and a volunteer crew of some 30 people at Rancho Deluxe went three days without sleep fighting to protect their home and business at the family’s movie ranch. Despite knowing what to do – it was the third fire they’d battled in their lifetime – at one point Arklin thought they were going to lose it all. But fires are unpredictable. What started out small rapidly grew mean and stubborn, dodging efforts of the firefighters to control it. The once-small brush fire suddenly jumped the Metrolink tracks. The battle was on.

Medical Device Manufacturer Making Leap to Larger Space

Six years ago, Technical Manufacturing West (TMW) was a startup company using hand-operated machinery to create prototypes of orthopedic medical devices, and was housed in a Santa Clarita garage. With business expanding, TMW Vice President of Operations Johnny Valadez and General Manager Brad Topper are moving to larger quarters for the third time in the company’s short history – a 14,000 square-foot facility on Avenue Tibbitts in Santa Clarita. Specializing in non-conventional machining, TMW’s operation lends itself to the manufacture of micro-surgical orthopedic devices. Moveable mechanical assemblies that they build allow access to otherwise inaccessible areas of the anatomy, or speed difficult procedures in the operating room. Topper says their biggest customers are the Fortune 500 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) medical device customers in the orthopedic arena.

Advocating to Save California’s Data Centers

Do you think your firm’s critical computer room and data center is hearty enough to survive a catastrophe? Try running it through a real live test, like the ones a Valencia-based firm survived. More reliable than any comic book superheroes, WorkSafe Technologies earthquake-resistant equipment survived one of the world’s largest earthquakes, and another of the world’s most damaging ones. There are no tougher quality tests that the company could have conducted, nor any seals of approval which would have demonstrated the worthiness of its products. Now in its 25th year in business, the firm has already sold over 200,000 of its ball bearing-loaded platforms – the ISO-Base isolators – to protect sensitive computer and information technology infrastructure in a disaster.

Fundraiser Benefits Firefighters Whose Homes Burned

As firefighters battled the onslaught of blazes from the Sand Fire, protecting properties in Santa Clarita and elsewhere, four of those same firefighters lost their own homes to the wildfires. To help them, a local movie ranch hosted a benefit to raise money for the firefighters and their families on Sept. 10. Habitat for Humanity, San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valley, supported the event.

Lloyd Sreden Remembered

Accountant Lloyd Sreden lost his battle with cancer on June 27. He helped shape Stern, Kory, Sreden & Morgan into a trusted CPA firm, and was committed to supporting community causes and organizations focused on making the Santa Clarita Valley an even better place to live, work, and play. He was a board member of the SCV Rotary Club, the William S. Hart Baseball and Softball League, and the Hart High School Baseball Booster Club, and a past member of the SCV Chamber of Commerce board. He will be deeply missed by his wife, three children, co-workers, colleagues and friends.

Bringing a Touch of Magic to Television and the World
When Mark Wilson and his wife Nani Darnell began their TV magic show in 1954, there had been no magic on the air except on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and there had never been a magic series on the relatively new medium of television. They convinced skeptical sponsors that viewers would accept magic on TV, and launched a legendary career. These days, Wilson and Darnell also run a 5,000-square-foot magic warehouse in Santa Clarita that rents magic props to professional magicians and to television and movie projects.

OCTOBER

Special Report on Old Town Newhall

It was once a lagging downtown with businesses that lost their sparkle, but Old Town Newhall is making a remarkable transition to a vibrant arts, entertainment and dining district. The plan is to reshape the area and make it more welcoming to pedestrians. With new boutiques, bars, and restaurants as well as live theater venues, the aim is to transform the downtown from a place that empties out after dark to a spot where residents and visitors from other communities could congregate – and spend their dollars. Commercial real estate broker Tim Crissman has been involved with Main Street in Old Town Newhall since 1983, when he started with Merrill Lynch Realty. “My very first transaction was selling the building to open Abe’s Pawn Shop, which remains to this day,” he recalled. “In fact, it’s probably the third oldest business on the block.” Crissman says many of the clients he first worked with in Old Town still own property there, and his firm continues to manage and lease those properties for them. “I developed a philosophy back then that I was going to change Newhall one property at a time,” he said.

Old Town Vision: Refocusing a Fading Retail District

Redevelopment of Old Town Newhall has been a work in progress for almost 20 years, and in recent times efforts to revitalize the downtown area have gained momentum. After having overcome setbacks delivered by the state government and a nationwide economic recession, downtown Newhall appears poised for sizable steps forward in the not too distant future. The Newhall redevelopment effort got under way when the Santa Clarita City Council established the Newhall Redevelopment Project Area in 1997 to revitalize the downtown area, and that was what started the funding mechanism for the revitalization of Old Town Newhall. In 2005, the city adopted the Old Town Newhall Specific Plan, and that has been the guiding vision and policy document that outlines Old Town Newhall would become.

Art House Movies, Retail Space, Parking Added to Help Anchor the District
With its numerous soundstages and movie ranches, Santa Clarita is a hub for Hollywood film and TV production. So, perhaps it’s fitting that a Laemmle Theatre, one of the most storied art house movie chains in the Los Angeles region, should become a downtown fixture of Newhall’s redevelopment plan. The plan calls for three projects. The first is at the corner of Lyons and Railroad – a two-story, seven-screen Laemmle art house movie theater, with 2,300 square feet of retail or restaurant space. On Lyons and Main Street will be Newhall Crossing – 47 residential units and approximately 20,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. On the southern-most corner of that block, at Railroad Avenue and Ninth Street, is the city’s 374-space parking structure.

With Gateway V Walls Tilted Up, Project Starts to Take Shape

Workers began tilting up the walls of Santa Clarita Valley’s newest industrial and office development project, Gateway V, in September. The 13-acre Valencia development, the first of its kind in Santa Clarita in 10 years, is part of the largest master-planned industrial project and center for business technology and industry in Los Angeles County, and it comes at a time when industrial space is at a premium. The ownership group, MCA Gateway V, LLC, purchased the three lots from Gateway V, LLC in April of this year. Brokers Craig Peters and Doug Sonderegger represented both sides of this transaction. The site sits off the 126 Highway at Commerce Center Drive and Interstate 5.

Santa Clarita Resident Richard Cook Moves Up at JPL

Santa Clarita resident Richard Cook was named associate director for Flight Projects and Mission Success at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Prior to his new role, Cook served as JPL’s deputy director for Solar System Exploration since 2013. He held several JPL leadership positions in the Mars Exploration Program, including manager and deputy manager for the Mars Science Laboratory Project during development and operations. In those roles, he was responsible for design, development, launch and operations of the Curiosity rover, which successfully landed on Mars in August 2012 and continues beaming back images and data.

Northrop Grumman Exec Offers Potential Suppliers a ‘How To’ Talk

If you’re a supplier to the aerospace industry, and you want to do business with Northrop Grumman, there are ground rules you need to know. The first is, “Do your homework.” Kevin Mitchell, vice president of global supply chain at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, the world’s fifth-largest defense contractor, addressed more than 70 aerospace business leaders at the SCV Aerospace & Defense Coalition (ADC) breakfast in October, and he gave the audience some pointers on becoming a supplier to the company.

Bayless Manufacturing Sells Buildings for Reported $12 Million

Bayless Manufacturing Inc., a Valencia metal fabricator and precision machine shop since 1989, sold its two buildings for around $12 million, according to Los Angeles commercial real estate brokerage CBRE Group Inc. The buyer was Sierra Nevada Investment Group Inc., an industrial real estate investment firm in Los Angeles. Bayless signed a six-year lease with Sierra Nevada as part of the sale-leaseback deal. The buildings, at 26100 and 26140 Avenue Hall at Avenue Stanford in the Valencia Industrial Center, were on the market for six weeks, said Robert Valenziano, a broker with CBRE who represented Bayless with CBRE broker Craig Peters. Craig Lyon of Craig Lyon Commercial and Steve Calhoun at Colliers International represented the buyer.

Scorpion’s New Multimillion-Dollar Headquarters

Scorpion is preparing to break ground on its new eco-friendly, employee-focused headquarters, next to the Sunkist building on Entertainment Drive. The internet marketing firm is hoping to help establish the Santa Clarita Valley as an important tech hub, the firm said in a statement. Building in Santa Clarita affords the proximity of the downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood metropolitan areas while maintaining affordable housing and a family-friendly lifestyle for employees, the company said.  “We chose Santa Clarita Valley as our permanent home because our employees live and thrive here, and we see it shaping into the epicenter of a tech hub that spreads across Los Angeles County,” Scorpion CEO and founder Rustin Kretz said in a statement.

Lost Canyon Apartments Sold for $61 Million

The Townhomes at Lost Canyon, an apartment complex in Santa Clarita, has sold for $61 million, according to its buyer, Beverly Hills real estate investor Kennedy-Wilson Holdings Inc. The company bought the complex at 18179 W. Terra Verde Place for $388,535 per unit. The seller was Resmark Cos., which bought the complex in 2013 for an undisclosed price. CBRE Capital Markets’ Debt & Structured Finance team secured $43 million of debt financing for the acquisition of the property.

NOVEMBER

Six Hard-Learned Lessons for Businesses

Most new businesses close the doors after a very short period of time. Eighty percent of start-ups fail within two years. About 4 percent of firms survive to the five-year mark. Staying in business beyond that, well, the odds are very slim. Despite those odds, J&M Events celebrated being in business 36 years earlier this year. Founded and led by Jorge Lopez, the business has grown, stumbled, gone sideways and has matured into a full service entertainment and production company. As many owners realize, starting and growing a business is the most difficult job they could ever sign up for. The hardships are many; the learning curve is steep, long and expensive. And while the rewards can be generous, they can also be fleeting. Lopez attributes his business longevity to six main lessons, some which he continues to seeking mentoring on even now.

Hypertension Controlling Device eCoin Enters the Next Stage of Testing

Medical device maker Valencia Technologies received federal approval to begin human testing for its small implantable device designed to control hypertension. The device, called the eCoin, is intended to help patients with drug-resistant hypertension. The coin-sized devices can be implanted in 20 minutes using local anesthetic. They are implanted in both of a patient’s forearms, and the two neurostimulators help control the subject’s blood pressure. Jeff Greiner, CEO of Valencia Technologies, said that the ultimate goal is to eliminate the need for medications used to treat hypertension. The first stage of testing will focus on the toughest to treat patients, those who are on three or more medications.

Island Blu, VaiWai Making a Splash with Natural Artesian Water from Fiji

Mala and Pramesh Sharma believe that their two natural artesian water offerings, Island Blu and VaiWai, both imported from Fiji, are just the beverages to quench Southern Californians’ thirst. Island Blu Natural Artesian Water is drawn from a pristine rainforest aquifer under certified organic farm land in Namosi. The fledgling company, based in Valencia, has been selling water bottled from the couple’s homeland since June. Rajeshni is the company’s owner and Pramesh is CFO. They came to Southern California from Fiji Island 35 years ago. The company’s other brand, VaiWai  – “Vai” means water in Polynesian, and “Wai” means water in Fijian – is the same water, but in biodegradable bottles. They’re up against some marketing powerhouses, including Voss and Fiji Water. “Fiji Water is a one billion dollar industry in America,” said Pramesh. “If we get one percent of that we’ll be happy.”

Matrix Concepts Revving Up its Line of Motorcycle, Bicycle Accessories

Eddie Cole parlayed a love of motocross racing into a lucrative business, creating products, parts and accessories for motorcycles and high-end bicycles. A longtime Santa Clarita resident, Cole’s lifelong interest in off-road motorcycle racing began when he was young. From the ages of 16 to 20, practically all he did was ride a motorcycle. His passion developed into a number of businesses related to the sport. He opened his first company in Valencia in 1976, and is now CEO of Matrix Concepts, which was founded by his sons Chadd and Cameron as a school project. Matrix employs a staff of around a dozen. The company’s products for the off-road motorcycle community include garage and track necessities, such as motorcycle stands, loading ramps, tie-downs, utility cans and rubber work mats – accessories for working on or transporting motorcycle.

Employers praised for programs to hire individuals with disabilities

Feeling challenged? Nearly 200 Santa Clarita business and community leaders gathered in support of hiring individuals with disabilities at the Mayor’s Committee for Employment of Individuals with Disabilities. Some of Santa Clarita’s largest employers were recognized hiring those challenged by some of life’s every day activities. “I am so proud to be in Santa Clarita and be surrounded by so many business professionals helping individuals with disabilities,” said committee President Ken Wiseman, also CEO and managing partner along with President Jay Catlin of AMS Fulfillment. A luncheon titled “Educate, Empower, Employ” featured information for employers on federal and state law, and representatives from the Department of Rehabilitation spoke to business owners about available tax credits.

Quest Diagnostics’ Women in Leadership network wins ACE award

A Quest Diagnostics business network designed to help women advance in the business world won a prestigious award for its work in helping women reach higher leadership positions at the nationwide clinical laboratory services corporation. The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) named Quest Diagnostics’ Women in Leadership Employee Business Network the winner of the 2016 HBA Advancement, Commitment, Engagement (ACE) award, recognizing internal leadership programs that advance the careers of women in their respective organizations.

SCV Economic Development Corp. Receives Award

The Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation (SCVEDC) received a Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award for its 2016 Still Golden Campaign project in the category of Special Purpose Print Brochure from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The honor was presented at an awards ceremony in Cleveland in September. “We are very proud to be honored amongst our peers of economic development organizations nationwide,” said Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corporation. “Our Still Golden campaign continues to highlight the Santa Clarita Valley as a place of entrepreneurial opportunity for companies large and small.”

BioSolar Working to Make Batteries Cheaper, More Efficient

Question: What do a cell phones, Tesla electric cars and solar panels have in common? Answer: Lithium-ion batteries, the compact, lightweight batteries used to power devices that you no doubt carry around with you every day. BioSolar, a Santa Clarita-based research and development firm wants to make those energy-storing devices perform better, charge faster and cost less. According to CEO and President David Lee BioSolar, the time is ripe for development of new battery technology. “There is a hot pursuit of better, newer chemistry, and better, newer battery technologies that will provide them higher capacity,” said Lee. “That means you can have a smaller battery that will have the same functions (as a larger one) in a device.”

E-commerce, Parcel Delivery Help Postage One Continue to Grow

For Postage One, it’s all about saving money when you send mail and packages. A 47-cent piece of mail may cost a Postage One customer 45 or 43 cents depending on volume, and that can add up to thousands of dollars in savings over the course of a year. That’s the backbone of the business, which is officially known as a “presort bureau.” Carriers pick up mail and packages and Postage One sorts it at its Valencia facility and combines it for ease of delivery by the U.S. Postal Service. They save the post office time, and in turn the post office offers them a price break, which Postage One passes on to its clients.

Sunvair Relocates to Larger Building, Plans Plating Facility

Sunvair, the Valencia-based firm that specializes in overhauling aircraft landing gears, recently moved its operation into a larger plant, nearly tripling the 28,000 square feet it occupied in its former space to about 88,000 square feet in its new location. The move came about after the company outgrew its last building, but the new location also provides space for improvements to their shop capabilities, including a new nickel and chrome plating facility. Plating facilities play a crucial role in the landing gear overhaul work the company does, and the kind of plating the new facility will handle is not easy to find in this region, said Mike Dann, Sunvair’s vice president of sales and business development.

A summary of the top business stories from December 2016 will appear in the January 2017 issue of the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal.

About the author

Patrick Mullen

Patrick Mullen

Patrick Mullen grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., and moved to Santa Clarita from Cleveland in 2016. He covered the business side of health care for 15 years.

Patrick Mullen

Patrick Mullen

Patrick Mullen grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., and moved to Santa Clarita from Cleveland in 2016. He covered the business side of health care for 15 years.