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Any yen for Ovitz den?

At the time CAA moved into its current headquarters in Beverly Hills, Michael Ovitz told a reporter that the building "was built to be a piece of art itself."

But could the structure be so unique or idiosyncratic that it will be hard finding a new tenant?

Not only is it so identified with the Ovitz era of the early 90s, but the I.M. Pei-designed structure at 9830 Wilshire Blvd. also is known for Roy Lichtenstein's 27 foot-by-18 foot canvas "Bauhaus Stairway: The Large Version," a painting so massive that the pop artist painted the work on site in the crescent-shaped atrium foyer. And the foyer so dominates the building that some complain the offices seem to be shoved off to the side.

The 110,000-square-foot building - praised for its feng shui but derided as fortress like--is still owned by a partnership managed by Ovitz and includes his former agency colleagues Bill Haber, Ron Meyer and Robert Goldman. (CAA's current management pays rent to the partnership.)

To be determined is whether the Lichtenstein stays with any new tenant, says Eric Olofson, the Cushman & Wakefield broker who is handling the lease. Given its size, to remove it would require something of an engineering feat.

The owners are in no rush to find a new tenant, Olofson says. He gets about 20 calls of interest per month, even though the property has yet to be officially marketed. They plan to do so once CAA vacates the building, expected at the end of this year or early next year.

"It really is a matter of the right fit," Olofson says. "It is going to be someone who wants to make a statement and be identified with that building.

"It is an architectural icon," he adds. "I have never seen anything like it."

The vacancy rate for prime office space in Beverly Hills is 2% to 3%, Olofson says, and the market is only working in the owners' favor, as few buildings this size come up empty in the area. Brokers say the partnership has been seeking about $5 per square foot, a whopping figure even in Los Angeles' Westside.

That, apparently, would put it out of reach of an obvious tenant, given the Lichtenstein: a nonprofit art gallery.

Of course, his former colleagues would not be surprised if Ovitz winds up occupying the building himself.

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Title Annotation:Michael Ovitz's CAA moves to new headquarters
Author:Johnson, Ted
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Aug 21, 2006
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