The binocular building: The building that very few people seem to know anything about, the building that is actually listed on Yelp just as ‘the binocular building.’
Not for long. As of tonight Google has finally opened it’s offices and the “Silicon Beach” era has officially begun.
Why did Google chose Venice? According to the LA Times, Google chose the location because “a marquee location in Los Angeles could help the company score points with potential hires,” to which I would ask – COULD help?
Obviously, there will be huge benefits to this move – a boom for North Venice and South Santa Monica businesses and restaurants, particularly for the less-than-packed stretch along Main between Rose and Windward. On the flip side, locals are immediately thinking of the significant impact this is going to have on what is surely one of the most tolerable rush-hour roads in LA. Beyond those first reactions, however, lie several more subtle effects this move will have on the Main Street neighborhood, and Venice in general.
Which brings us to… 5 Ways Life Will Be Different With Google.
1. Happy Hours: I happen to think Main Street has one of the better happy hour selections on the Westside – I can think of 10 places off the top of my head that have both food and drink specials that I enjoy. You know what else is great about them? They are almost never crowded, because who has time to get from the office to Main Street before 6:30? People who work in Santa Monica and live in Venice, and vice versa – that’s who. And do you know how many of us there are? Not many. I beg you, future restaurant developers of Main Street, prepare yourselves. The BBC reported in 2009 that the average age of Google’s employees was 29 – you do the math.
2. Public Transportation: This is a huge potential win for locals. While I appreciate that we have two nicer-than-Metro bus companies that run on the Westside, why it is not possible to take a bus from Washington Blvd. to downtown Santa Monica is beyond me. By next year, I wager this is not going to be a problem. I expect to see an increase in the number of routes Big Blue and Culver City buses offer and certainly an increase in routes that run throughout Venice without me having to walk a mile to Windward to catch one.
3. The Rental Market: Thinking of moving to a new spot? Do it RIGHT NOW. Seriously – do you know what happens to rental markets when a huge company announces a move-in? Apartments will be at a shortage, rents will increase, and if you find that sweet spot right now, you could be sitting pretty on a lucrative sublet should you ever decide to leave. But expect moving around town to get more difficult as 2011 draws to a close and 2012 starts up…
4. Bike Commuting: Google is well-known for its support of bike commuters – Venice has a large number of bikers and surprisingly little support for them in the North-South directions. I am holding out hope that as development commences, so do plans for bike lanes and street lights through the long, dark stretches along Main Street – and I can stop fighting the kids running across the bike path or (occasionally… shhh) hauling ass up Ocean Front Walk in the early morning. It’s better than negotiating the is-it-one-lane-or-two Main Street or the high pedestrian curbs along Nielsen way.
5. You’ll finally know what the deal is with the Binocular building. By the time the press is over, you’ll know that it was built by Frank Gehry in 1985 as the west coast headquarters of advertising giant Chiat/Day. You’ll learn that the binoculars are the entrance to the parking garage, and that they were designed by husband and wife sculpting team Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Dig deep enough and you may read about Chiat/Day’s failed office and paper-less work experiment, and that the three different building facades are actually a part of the same design, meant to reflect the nuances of the buildings around them.
It will be interesting to see what the big Google move of ’11 has in store for Venice. I do know that if you have ever given thought to building a business, investing in a rental or developing a space on Main Street, now’s the time to do it. As far as the other ways it will impact Westside life, only time will tell.
Welcome to beach Google family! Bookmark us.
+++ If you work with Google and are new to the area, would love to contribute to Welovenice in any capacity, or need insider tips for the area, feel free to hit us up here: firstname.lastname@example.org +++
Here comes da boom!