It’s no secret that the entertainment industry has been booming in Burbank, Glendale and, increasingly, on the Westside.

So where’s the next hot spot for Hollywood expansion? Try about 60 miles south, across the Orange County line where Tustin city officials are touting the marine base there as Hollywood South.

City officials are in discussions with the U.S. Navy and Touchstone Pictures a unit of Walt Disney Co. to lease out a portion of one of the massive, 300,000-square-foot blimp hangars on the Tustin Marine Corps Air Station as a soundstage for the upcoming Touchstone feature “Armageddon,” according to Assistant City Manager Christine Shingleton.

If an agreement is reached, she said, Touchstone has told her it would start production in the hangar around mid-July. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal June 2.

Touchstone officials were not available for comment last week.

Tustin officials are hoping to capitalize on an acute shortage of sound stages in Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley, West Los Angeles and other film centers in Los Angeles County. There is a waiting list of months or even years for sound stages in Los Angeles, prompting studios to build new facilities. But those new stages have not yet been completed, which has presented an opportunity for Tustin.

Already, the municipality has been contacted by Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Inc. and Sony Pictures Entertainment to use space on the base. The Marines are expected to completely vacate the base by 1999.

Once vacated, the city’s master reuse plan calls for a mixture of residential, industrial, park and educational space. For filming, the base also has newer buildings in the 5,000-to-30,000-square-foot range, as well as an 85,000-square-foot hangar that would be better for long-term projects.

“We are looking to establish some sort of permanent film production presence on the base,” Shingleton said. “It could entail a single studio building, permanent sound stages, or it could involve getting a developer in to build sound stages that could be leased out on a short-term or a long-term basis.”

The Orange County Film Commission working with the municipality is developing a marketing plan to take to the Hollywood studios later this year. Its strategy includes a two-pronged approach: getting film companies to use the base for individual shoots or productions and trying to lure a permanent film operation there.

“We have a golden opportunity here to tap into a thriving industry,” said commission President Debi Hausdorfer.

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