Danny Zappin's Zealot Heads to Venice (Exclusive)

660 Venice - H 2014
Lawrence Anderson

660 Venice - H 2014

The space was formerly L&M Arts

Former Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin's new digital media startup has found a home in Venice.

Zealot has signed a five-year lease for about 3,600 square feet at 660 Venice Blvd., the site of the former L&M Arts gallery, which closed in 2013.

The 11,000-square-foot site houses two buildings, outdoor space and parking. The original classic brick building on the property was built in 1929 to house a Southern Edison power station. When New York's L&M bought the site, it hired wHY Architecture's Kulapat Yantrasast to renovate the building and construct a second structure on the property. Pardee Properties' Daniel Pickart, who represented the landlord in the deal, said the site also was the former home of author Ray Bradbury.

The move puts Zealot at the center of Los Angeles' technology startup scene. Venice, especially with its proximity to the beach and the shopping district off Abbot Kinney, has become a hot spot for companies such as Google, ZEFR and Vice Media. As Venice has grown in popularity with digital firms, office space has become harder to find, and Zealot is one of the few new companies to find space in the neighborhood.

In fact, Pickart says the property wasn't yet on the market. After L&M shuttered, the property was put up for sale. Pickart's clients, whom he declined to name, purchased the property for $4.5 million and negotiated a lease with Zealot while in escrow.

"Zealot gobbled it up before it even hit the [rental] market," he says. "It shows how much of a demand there is in Venice."

Zappin, the co-founder and former CEO of Disney's Maker Studios, announced his plans for Zealot in August with $25 million in funding from a group of investors that includes former and current Maker talent and employees. At the time, he said Zealot would be a talent incubator that would help YouTube creators find multiplatform distribution. He currently is embroiled in a lawsuit against Maker in which he claims that he was forced out of the company.

Zealot was represented by Jones Lang LaSalle's Blake Searles.