The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has approved plans by Sunset Gower owners Hudson Pacific Properties Inc. and Blackstone Property Partners to add roughly 480,000 square feet to the historic property.
Sunset Gower Studios dates to 1918.
“When the site was acquired … the plan always was to eventually take advantage of the additional density rights we had for the site,” said Alex Vouvalides, chief investment officer and chief operating officer for Hudson Pacific.
“We’ve been working on the entitlements for quite some time, and we’re excited to get to this point,” he added. “We think it will be a fantastic expansion of the Sunset Gower lot and will capitalize on the success next door at Sunset Bronson.”
Brentwood-based Hudson Pacific acquired the property in 2007. And earlier this year, Blackstone bought a 49% interest in Hudson Pacific’s Hollywood Media Portfolio, including Sunset Gower Studios.
The deal valued the portfolio at nearly $1.7 billion.
Hudson Pacific retained a 51% ownership stake in the group of studios and is responsible for day-to-day operations at the properties, as well as leasing and developing excess land.
Vouvalides said Blackstone would be “shoulder to shoulder with us developing the project.”
“When we sold them the interest in the facility, they knew this was a critical piece of the portfolio,” he said.
Sunset Bronson and Sunset Las Palmas are also part of the portfolio.
Hudson Pacific has already done some redevelopment to Sunset Bronson, creating buildings that are occupied by Los Gatos-based Netflix Inc.
“Piggybacking off the success of that product, Gower was always the next step of the plan,” Vouvalides said.
Sunset Gower Studios currently counts Netflix and ABC among its clients.
Expansion of the property, which was once home to Columbia Pictures, will include two soundstages, a high-rise office tower and a low-rise building for office and production support staff.
“We can preserve the rich history of the lot and add new, state-of-the-art facilities and build what today’s tenants are looking for from a production and office standpoint,” Vouvalides said.
He added that Hudson Pacific plans to work with the existing lot, augmenting office space and soundstages in the already-dense area.
The project, which is being designed by Gensler, is expected to take three years to build and will likely start construction in 2022.
But Vouvalides said the buildings could have a tenant sooner.
“Now that we’re approved, we can start to really move forward with the preleasing efforts,” he said, adding that Hudson Pacific couldn’t prelease the site before receiving city approval for the project.
Netflix has been a big preleaser of other Hudson Pacific buildings, such as Epic. But Vouvalides said Hudson Pacific is not counting on one big user taking up all the space in the expansion.
“We always design our office buildings with flexibility to accommodate multiple users,” he said. “If you can do it with fewer leases, that’s always a positive, but we are prepared for multiple tenants as well.”
And despite Covid-19’s impact on the world, Vouvalides said the pandemic has not caused substantive changes to the project.
“With the success the streaming companies and production companies have had … there’s pent-up demand from the production companies to get back filming. … As far as conviction with the project, we still are committed,” he said.
Still, Vouvalides said the company was working to have systems in place to make the buildings health and wellness focused.
And once tenants are signed, he added, Hudson Pacific and Blackstone would work with the occupants to make sure the property remains safe.
Hudson Pacific, Blackstone Plan to Double Size of Sunset Gower Studios