Snap is leaving Venice, but its imprint remains

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Social media giant Snap Inc. is moving out of Venice, the city that presided over its now $3 billion success story.

The news comes as a relief to many in the neighborhood, who have long complained that the creator of Snapchat has slowly transformed their funky, beachside community, kicking out cherished businesses and restaurants during an unbridled expansion.

But as Snap leaves, the imprint it has left on colorful, eccentric Venice remains.

“A lot of the liveliness of Ocean Front Walk has disappeared,” says Andy Rovins, who has lived in Venice for more than four decades.

One of the best examples, he says, is what has happened to the Gingerbread Court. It is a red brick building that surrounds a courtyard on the boardwalk. The owner of the building leased a lot of the spaces out to Snap. Now they are empty.

“And now they are leaving and you see anyone here? It’s like that’s empty, that’s empty, that’s empty,” Rovins says of the building. “I remember when people used to live in this place.”

Andy Rovins dons his #deletesnapchat t-shirt at the Gingerbread Court on the Venice Boardwalk (Photo by Benjamin Gottlieb).

Snap is now moving to Santa Monica into a more traditional tech space. But it has left behind an inflated real estate market, with brokers now trying to cater to new start-ups.

Michael Springer is with the real estate firm Halton Pardee and Partners, which has several properties for lease in Venice. He says office space that used to go for $3 or $4 per square foot is now more like $5 or $6. One location, that Snap once occupied, is now listed at $13 a square foot.

“Snap took up all this inventory and as they did they were offering higher and higher rents,” Springer says. “That has basically made this market.”

Snap’s impact on the commercial real estate market coincides with rising housing prices too. The average rent in Venice, for example, is more than $3,000.

A real estate firm markets to Snap employees in Venice (Photo by Benjamin Gottlieb).

Snap Inc. declined to be interviewed for this story.

In a statement, a spokesperson tells KCRW that the company is not doing any interviews related to its move out of Venice. He added that “… we are looking forward to bringing teams closer together in Santa Monica.”