It's a lot for famed studio


Private-equity group GI Partners, owner of Sunset Gower Studios for the past 2 1/2 years, has agreed to sell the historic production facility to commercial real estate investor Hudson Capital and an unnamed partner for "upward of $200 million," officials said.

The 86-year-old Hollywood facility has been the site of film productions -- from the classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" to the recent "Georgia Rule" -- and such current TV productions as "Heroes" and "October Road."

Other tenants include Technicolor, for which a new 97,000-square-foot addition is being built on part of the 16-acre Sunset Gower site. Completion is expected by December.

Technicolor's commitment is long-term and would be unaffected by the sale, which is expected to close in mid-August, Sunset Gower spokeswoman Terry Melkonian said. New owners aim to expand infrastructure on the site further with the construction of new production offices, Melkonian added.

Robert Papazian, a veteran TV producer ("Nash Bridges") and CEO at the facility, said he will be staying aboard through year's end.

"I will continue to serve as CEO through the completion of the Technicolor building, while assuring a smooth transition," he said.

Papazian also confirmed he will be selling his minority stake in the company as part of the transaction.

GI Partners bought the studio in December 2004 from privately held Pick-Vanoff Co. for $110 million in a transaction that also included the adjacent Aquarius Theater. The theater was sold last year for $25 million.

Other bidders in the latest auction for Sunset Gower included the Carlyle Group, which recently bought Manhattan Beach Studios for $150 million; real estate operators Newport Capital Advisors, which recently purchased the Hollywood Palladium concert-and-events venue for $68 million; commercial developer Argent Ventures, which last year bought the Capitol Records tower for $50 million; real estate developer Fifteen Group; and McCarthy Cooke, another developer.

Other major independent production facilities in the area include Culver Studios in Culver City.