West Hollywood-based Bardas Investment Group and Bain Capital Real Estate, the real estate investment group of Bain Capital, have submitted plans to develop a $450 million project dubbed Echelon Studios.
The 5-acre site at 5601 Santa Monica Blvd. was formerly a Sears store.
Developer David Simon, founder and managing principal of Bardas Investment Group, was previously an executive with Sawtelle-based Kilroy Realty Corp.
He was responsible for the company’s L.A. portfolio, including the Columbia Square media campus in Hollywood.
Simon said he was interested in developing a studio campus because “it’s become very evident that the content creation business has been growing and expanding.”
He added that it’s difficult to find enough land to create a project at the scale of Echelon Studios and was interested when the opportunity arose.
“It’s always been something we’ve wanted to do but not go out into the Valley. We wanted to create an urban studio environment,” Simon said.
If approved, the project will have four 19,000-square-foot soundstages; a 15,000-square-foot flex stage; and 90,000 square feet of bungalows. It will also have 350,000 square feet of creative office space across two mid-rise buildings.
“The ability to create the first state-of-the-art, purpose-built studio/soundstage since Manhattan Beach Studios is exciting. The bungalow component is elevating this base camp area and is really going to create the old Hollywood-type bungalows that is really going to feel special,” Simon said.
“It’s going to be really unique, and it doesn’t exist in the environment today,” he added.
The project will also have a central courtyard, outdoor decks, patios and other common areas.
Construction, which will take two years, is expected to start in 2023.
Simon said the space could be leased to multiple tenants or one large user.
Bain Capital Real Estate and Bardas Investment Group formed a joint venture in 2019 to pursue opportunities to develop and operate creative office and production spaces.
“We believe the intense growth from the digitalization of content presents a compelling opportunity to create a uniquely integrated platform that partners with tenants to develop an unmatched experience,” Joe Marconi, a managing director at Bain Capital Real Estate, said in a statement.
“Our partnership with David and Bardas IG not only brings unparalleled experienced in the Los Angeles market, but also an aligned investment approach and customer-centric strategy to provide bespoke real estate environments to the content and media industry,” he added.
The joint venture has already invested in roughly 1 million square feet of development projects. That includes a 15,000-square-foot creative office space under construction at 712 Seward St., also in Hollywood.
Echelon, which will lend its name to the Hollywood project, is the content media real estate platform created by Bain Capital Real Estate and Bardas.
It will be used for the companies’ joint venture investments.
Simon said the name Echelon means “at a higher level or take it to the next level.”
Soundstage occupancy rates have hovered in the mid 90% range in L.A. since 2016, according to Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.
Companies like Brentwood-based Hudson Pacific Properties Inc. and Culver City-based Hackman Capital Partners have been acquiring and developing additional studio space around the county and the world.
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