Negotiations between DreamWorks SKG and the developer of Playa Vista, where DreamWorks wants to build a studio, are proceeding quite well or they’re not proceeding at all, depending on who you talk to.
The two parties ceased discussions last week, having agreed to disagree on terms of the deal. But late in the week the developer, Playa Capital Co. LLC, said talks had resumed. DreamWorks said they hadn’t.
“We’ve had very recent positive phone calls back and forth between us and DreamWorks,” said Playa Capital spokesman David Herbst.
Andy Spahn, head of corporate affairs for DreamWorks, told a different story. “We are not currently in negotiations,” he said.
Spahn said Jeffrey Katzenberg did receive one phone call last week from Owen Thomas of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter,, a lead investor in Playa Capital. “But that’s it,” Spahn said.
The main point of contention is that DreamWorks wants ownership of 48 acres, including the entire 18-acre area slated for sound stages. Playa Capital wants to retain control over at least part of that area.
Spahn reiterated that DreamWorks’ position remains unchanged from last week. “The offer we put on the table stands,” he said. “Those are the only terms under which we’d go to Playa, as we’ve stated repeatedly.”
Morgan Stanley’s Thomas and Dan Neidich of Goldman, Sachs & Co., the two key investors in Playa Capital, are planning to be in town this week, said Playa Capital spokesman Coby King. “They’re coming to meet with the executives and get an update on the project,” he said.
In a related matter, Playa Capital resumed grading operations last week on the portion of the site targeted for housing.
Inspectors for the L.A. Department of Building and Safety had previously ordered a halt to that work, saying Playa Capital did not have a necessary permit.
That same week, L.A. City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter announced that until Playa Capital worked out its dispute with DreamWorks, she would encourage officials to keep a hawkish eye on whether the developer was complying with city rules.
Playa Capital has since obtained the necessary permit and continued work.