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The owner of the Sunset Bronson Studios, which houses the KTLA studios and other production spaces at 5800 Sunset Blvd., plans to build a 13-story office tower, a five-story production facility and a parking structure at the site.
While the plan would dramatically change the look of the property, it calls for building all of the new structures around existing facilities, and would not require any of the current tenants to relocate.
The developer, the Hudson Pacific Properties, purchased the property in 2008 from the Tribune Company, owner of KTLA. Christopher Barton, executive vice president of operations and development for Hudson Pacific Properties, said Tribune had already received entitlements to build a larger project at the site with 16 and 20-story office towers, prior to selling the property. Hudson Pacific will have to secure new entitlements, Barton said, and presented the plan recently to begin the long process of obtaining city approval and working with local community groups.
“The idea is to develop the part of the lot that is currently undeveloped, and take the existing building that is in front and restore it,” Barton said. “Basically, we have a studio that is in dire need of a redevelopment. The studio is very outdated, and we want to upgrade it. A lot of other studios are doing it, like Paramount and Warner Brothers, and we wanted to make the same improvements.”
Barton said one of the most interesting aesthetic components of the site — the KTLA radio tower now located at Sunset Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue —will be moved to the other side of the property near Sunset Boulevard and Bronson Avenue. The tower was originally located there prior to it being moved during a previous renovation project in the 1960s, he added.
The 13-story office tower will be located at the southwest corner of Sunset Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue, and will be designed by the architectural firm, Gensler. A seven-level parking structure, with two subterranean levels, will be constructed on Van Ness Avenue and will feature 1,635 parking spaces, allowing all employees of tenants to park on site.
The mansion-like building at the front of the property, which is registered as a national historic landmark, will be restored, according to Barton. Designed to look like an opulent Southern mansion, the building has always housed offices or studios, and was never a residence.
The Sunset Bronson Studios has a long history in Hollywood. The vacant farm land was purchased by Sam and Jack Warner in 1919, and the Warner Bros. West Studios began production a few years later. Some of the early films that were made at the studios include “Rin Tin Tin” and “ The Jazz Singer”. The Warners later moved the bulk of their production facilities to Burbank in the 1930s, but kept the Sunset Bronson Studios operating with smaller projects such as animated cartoons and short films. In 1954, Gene Autry purchased the studios and KTLA opened its production facility at the lot. The television station has broadcast from the facility ever since. Over the years, many television programs were filmed at the site, including “Gunsmoke” and “The Donny and Marie Show”. Barton said several independent productions also lease studios at the site, including “Hannah Montana” and “Judge Judy”.
Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, 13th District, has not taken a position on the project, according to Yusef Robb, Garcetti’s communications director. Barton added that the developer plans to reach out to the local neighborhood council during the planning process. Steven Whiddon, the chair of the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council, said while he hasn’t seen any concrete plans from Hudson Pacific, the council is generally supportive of projects that will bring new opportunity to the area.
“KTLA has been a neighborhood staple in the area for a long time, and obviously we would like to see them stay,” Whiddon said. “Everything east of Vine, it’s time to focus on smart development. The area has a large population, so they need to talk to the people, but we are looking forward to having a discussion.”
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