There’s a storied history behind the studio lot at the corner of Formosa Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.
Built in 1919 by silent-movie maker Jesse Hampton, the lot went through later incarnations as the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio, United Artists Studio, Samuel Goldwyn Studio, and the Warner Hollywood Studio.
Now it’s simply the Lot, a recently redeveloped CIM Group property that includes two office towers – one under construction slated to open in mid-2017 and one leased by digital comedy producer Funny or Die Inc. and Oprah Winfrey Network – as well as rentable soundstages and production spaces.
It represents the new face – and footprint – of the Hollywood studio as a production explosion fueled by new entertainment platforms and content suppliers eats up valuable real estate. Both traditional studios and digital content producers are hungry for soundstage space, but not of the same size and scale as in years past, brokers say.
“When land was cheap here in L.A., studio heads built these giant infrastructures that were really factories to produce movies and television in-house,” said Bill Humphrey, general manager of Hollywood’s Sunset Gower and Sunset Bronson Studios for Hudson Pacific Properties. “The new model with the new streaming companies is more focused on distribution and global brand identity.”
Sunset Bronson houses another fresh face among the new content creators. Netflix Inc. last year signed a lease for the Icon office tower there, along with a 10-year lease for the studio’s soundstages and production facilities. Humphrey described the Icon building as a vertical campus of creative office space.
He said the globalization of the entertainment product will lead to more and more L.A. office space being gobbled up for business and marketing needs. But he acknowledged that office space, no matter how “creative,” cannot meet the demands of such powerhouse companies as Netflix, Amazon.com Inc., and Hulu as they move into production that might require both soundstage and location shooting.
Humphrey estimated the number of soundstages in the L.A. area at 140.
For some area companies producing digital content for small screens – including Playa del Rey’s Fullscreen Media and Culver City’s Maker Studios – production might call for so-called insert stages, which can require less sophisticated sound and light technology.
“Smaller creative media companies may not be looking to studio lots as their first stop relative to their office needs,” said broker Greg Frankovich of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. Such companies might prefer production space that can be transformed into office or meeting use when needed.
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