Streaming Drives Massive Hollywood Soundstage Expansion

The streaming wars are spurring a content surge that is driving a demand for production space. The latest beneficiary of that is Television Center, a six-acre Art Deco complex on Romaine Street in Hollywood. The former home of the Technicolor Hollywood film lab is being remade as Echelon at Television Center in a $600-million makeover courtesy of Bardas Investment Group and Bain Capital Real Estate. Plans are underway for a complex of offices and a 620,000-square-foot studio with four soundstages and underground parking for more than 1,000 cars, spanning two city blocks. This is one of several production facilities in the planning stages.

Further East, on Santa Monica Boulevard between Wilton and Western, the investor partners are transforming a landmark 1947 Sears building into Echelon Studios. There, plans call for five soundstages, offices and “base camp” space for trucks, equipment and trailers.

Although both projects are still at various phases in the city’s approval process, Bardas managing principal David Simon told Los Angeles Times he expects to break ground at the Sears site in the spring, with work at Echelon at Television Center to commence within 18 months. Each project will take about two years to complete.

Another company, Atlas Capital, is turning the Los Angeles Times printing plant at 8th and Alameda in downtown L.A. into a facility with 17 soundstages as part of a $650 million remodel, the newspaper reports.

“In the ring of L.A.’s famed Thirty Mile Zone of filming territory, developers are upgrading old studios such as Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank and Universal Studios and inventing whole new ones,” LA Times writes, noting that while Los Angeles “has the largest number of soundstages of any city in the world, studios are operating near 100 percent capacity with wait lists as long as five film productions deep for those spaces, financial advisor Deloitte said in a report last year.”

The Deloitte report posits that “to meet the booming demand, supply would need to more than double in Los Angeles County.” Even with the current expansion, LA Times says planned projects fall short of that.

“Growth in streaming television has recharged the region’s illustrious entertainment industry, USC economist Richard Green said,” according to LA Times, which explains “city and state leaders have been trying for years” to lure back so-called runaway production — filmmakers fleeing to cities like Atlanta, Vancouver and Albuquerque to take advantage of tax incentives.

California legislators “authorized an additional $150 million in tax credits last year for filming on new or renovated soundstages,” LA Times reports.

Production space “continues to be scarce worldwide given the large number of productions looking for homes,” writes Deadline. “The streaming wars kicked off the race for space and even a more subdued climate lately of streamers spending less on content will be nowhere near to making up the supply-demand imbalance.”

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