KABC-TV Channel 7 is in the final stages of negotiations to move its television news operations and offices to a new 100,000-square-foot campus to be built at Taylor Yard, an old Southern Pacific Railroad yard near Elysian Park, sources said last week.
The new 10- to 12-acre facility will include sound stages for KABC’s local news shows, and could include sound stages for other programs produced by KABC and Walt Disney Co., ABC Inc.’s parent company, according to Los Angeles City Hall sources.
Administrative and executive offices will also be moved to the new site, which has been surveyed by Disney Chairman Michael Eisner.
“Eisner visited the site and said, ‘Get it done as fast as possible,’ ” said one high-ranking city official who asked not to be identified.
The new facility will not replace KABC’s longtime East Hollywood operation, ABC Television Center, located at Prospect Avenue and Talmadge Street, but rather supplement it, he said.
KABC-TV officials did not return calls for comment.
Larry Rieder, an executive vice president with CB Commercial/Madison Advisory Group, which represents KABC in its search for a new site, confirmed that the television station is “in serious negotiations” on the Taylor Yard site.
“We are still actively negotiating on a couple sites, and KABC has not made a final decision on where it’s going,” Rieder said.
But Rieder added that the site “does meet our specifications,” because it is conveniently located near the Golden State (5) and Glendale (2) freeways, and can accommodate a landing pad for KABC’s news helicopter, along with the antennas needed to reach the station’s relay transmitters.
Rieder and city officials also touted the sight’s proximity to downtown L.A., where KABC often sends news teams; the Burbank-Glendale area, where Disney has studios; and KABC’s current site in East Hollywood.
The helicopter landing site is currently at issue, said one city official, because Taylor Yard is directly across San Fernando Road from Glassell Park Elementary School. But the problem should be easily solved, the city official said, by placing the landing site closer to the Los Angeles River, which borders Taylor Yard on the opposite side.
Rieder of CB Commercial said he was not sure what KABC would use ABC Television Center for after the move, but added that it would take 18 to 24 months before a new studio can be built.
“They have plenty of time to think about how they will reuse that site,” he said.
Along with the production of local news broadcasts, ABC Television Center also includes studios where daytime soap operas “General Hospital” and “Port Charles” are taped. In addition, it has the West Coast studios for “Good Morning America” and ABC’s network news as well as studios for local public affairs shows “Vista L.A.” and “Kids View.”
One city official said KABC has guaranteed that it would not abandon its Prospect Avenue site if the city provided assistance in building a new site at Taylor Yard.
Adam Weisman, president of the Franklin Hills Residents Association, said KABC officials had told members of his organization that the station’s news operations would be leaving in one-and-a-half to three years, as part of a five-year plan for studio expansion.
Weisman added that ABC Television Center has been a good neighbor, and has volunteered to serve as an emergency gathering area in the event of a major earthquake.
KABC has also been responsive to past complaints about helicopter noise, he said.
“We found the optimal landing pattern that really minimizes noise,” he said, adding that his organization only rarely receives complaints about KABC helicopter noise.
City officials said that Memphis, Tenn.-based Federal Express Corp. is also in negotiations to build a 100,000-square foot distribution hub on a 10-acre plot on Taylor Yard adjacent to the proposed KABC site. The hub would primarily service downtown L.A., city officials said. Federal Express officials did not return calls for comment.
A spokesman for Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific Railroad Co., which owns 160 acres of Taylor Yard, would not comment on the deals, but said the company is in negotiations to sell the land.
“We have two or three potential real estate sales kind of working their way through the process, but not at the point where we can identify the buyers,” said Mike Furtney, director of public relations for Union Pacific’s western region.
Furtney said that a limited number of trains still use the switching yard, but that they will be rerouted once the land is sold. “Over time, it will be phased out as an active rail yard. The bulk of the yard would be converted to other use.”
Furtney said the sales are expected to be concluded by the end of the year also the time by which KABC wants to begin construction at Taylor Yard, one city official said.