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Two private equity investors are doubling down on stage space in the heart of Hollywood.
Betting on continuing demand for soundstages amid a global crunch, BARDAS Investment Group and Bain Capital Real Estate announced on Thursday a $600 million redevelopment of the former Television Center, at 6311 Romaine St., that will transform the facility into a 620,000-square-foot studio campus with four stages. It’ll be rebranded as Echelon Television Center.
The announcement comes a year after the duo in a joint venture acquired the neighboring site of a shuttered Sears to redevelop into Hollywood’s first purpose-built studio campus to be built in more than 20 years. The $450 million complex called Echelon Studios will span a full city block, including four 19,000 square foot soundstages, and is expected to break ground in 2023.
BARDAS founder David Simon said the endeavor “represents another great opportunity to keep Hollywood in Hollywood,” where he expects to see ongoing demand for stage space over the next several years even if content spending levels off.
The property once served as Technicolor’s headquarters as well as the studio lot for Metro Pictures. The redevelopment, expected to break ground in 2024, is billed as a “reimagined creative office environment” with a “state-of-the-art production facility” that will be combined with the preservation of several of the existing buildings. On the northern block, the original art-deco façade will enclose a studio lot, bookended by a new creative office building with outdoor terraces. On the southern block, four soundstages will replace a vacant parking lot. There are plans for a six-story office building offering production support services and rooftop office bungalows and decks.
“We are extremely excited to breathe life back into this site, honoring its past while delivering an exceptional project curated for today’s content creators in the heart of Hollywood,” said Bain Capital Real Estate Managing Director at Joe Marconi in a statement. “Similar to our Echelon Studios project, Echelon at Television Center will be another great addition to the entertainment and media landscape in Hollywood.”
Marconi added that Bain and BARDAS believe in the long term viability of production facilities due to the “continued growth of the media and entertainment industry,” especially in a key global market like Los Angeles. The partnership has focused on redeveloping facilities with underutilized spaces. It purchased last year the complex Echelon Studios will be built for $81.9 million from CIM Group, which withdrew in 2018 its application to redevelop the facility, according to city records.
“All of our Echelon projects will be unique with forward thinking designs that will inspire the creative class,” Simon told The Hollywood Reporter. “Once completed, Echelon at Television Center will offer state of the art facilities and service attracting a wide range of productions in the heart of Hollywood.”
In recent years, private equity and real estate firms have been acquiring, constructing and expanding soundstages at a rapid pace. They’re betting on an imbalance in the demand for and supply of soundstages in global production hubs.
In June, private equity firm Silver Lake led a $500 million investment to more than double the size of Shadowbox Studios’ (formerly Blackhall Studios) Atlanta facility and support development projects in Los Angeles and London. This was preceded by Blackstone and Hudson Pacific Properties announcing in July 2021 plans to invest up to $190 million to develop a 240,000-square-foot production studio in Los Angeles. Hackman Capital, among the largest independent owners of production space, has acquired 19 studio facilities since 2014. Over the past three years, the firm has amassed a portfolio of $3.8 billion in studio investments and has 90 stages under construction.
Bain Capital Real Estate and BARDAS formed a joint venture in 2019 to acquire production and creative office spaces targeted at users in the media industry, with a focus on the key content submarkets in Los Angeles. So far, the duo has invested in existing and new development projects encompassing more than 1.5 million square feet.
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