Wed 20 Aug 2014
(dailynews.com) After more than four decades in the San Fernando Valley, Sunkist Growers Inc. will vacate its iconic Sherman Oaks headquarters this fall and relocate to Valencia, the company announced Monday.
The landmark, white, three-story, 120,000-square-foot building at 14130 Riverside Drive has been a familiar site to drivers whizzing along the Ventura Freeway since it opened in 1971.
“This is an exciting time for Sunkist Growers,” President and CEO Russell Hanlin said in a statement. “In the past few years, we have made significant advances on key strategic initiatives to position Sunkist for long-term growth and profitability — and the relocation of our headquarters is part of that strategy. We look forward to welcoming our growers, customers, licensees and other business partners to our new home in Valencia.”
The new building is at 27770 N. Entertainment Drive between the 5 Freeway and Magic Mountain.
It is also closer to Sunkist’s growing areas in the region.
The move will enable Sunkist to keep its workforce intact, the company said in a statement.
The brand has been part of the Los Angeles business community for 120 years.
Sunkist is a cooperative of family farms and offers more than 40 fresh citrus products. It has thousands of grower members in California and Arizona.
Jason Crawford, marketing and economic development manager for the city of Santa Clarita, said the city and the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. helped Sunkist find its new headquarters. The move will involve several hundred employees, he said.
“It’s a huge boon for the entire Santa Clarita Valley for the jobs they will be bringing here. And as attrition happens they will be hiring new employees,” Crawford said. “It’s a great company and a household name and we are thrilled to have them moving here.”
But the move is a loss for the San Fernando Valley, said Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association.
“They, as an organization, as well as the building are icons for the Valley,” Close said. “And it’s an unfortunate situation because a lot of businesses are finding that Los Angeles is just too expensive to operate in. Luckily, this company will still be nearby.”
City Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes Sherman Oaks, expressed similar sentiments.
“I remember when they were down off Fifth Street right across from the library. I’m sorry that they are leaving, but their legacy is that building. It’s one of the great buildings in the San Fernando Valley and all of Los Angeles.”
The building, which was sold last February to Sherman Oaks-based IMT Capital, has some notable features.
It is cantilevered out from its base so the top floor is bigger than the bottom, and white inverted concrete triangles at the sides of each window ring the building and seem to support the floor above. It also has an open-air atrium in the middle.
IMT’s plan for the property includes nearly 360,000 feet of retail space and 298 apartment units. The Sunkist building will be preserved.
“There were a lot of people interested in this site who wanted to tear down the building,” Attorney Mark Armbruster said told the Daily News last month. “We found a way to preserve it and add some features that will not take away from the site.”