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The Real Deal Los Angeles

This month in real estate history: Sunset and Bronson Studios to be built, Getty Museum plans unveiled… and more

Japanese owner makes rare profit on Santa Monica building purchased at height of 1980s boom
By Gabrielle Paluch | February 13, 2017 04:00PM

The Getty Villa (credit: Getty Images ) and Sunset Bronson Studios

In a recently introduced feature, The Real Deal takes a monthly dive into L.A.’s storied real estate history.

February, 1919 — Bonnie-Reed Company to build “film plant”

F.S. Reed announced the construction plans for the film studios that would eventually become Sunset and Bronson Studios, the Los Angeles Times reported. The studios, projected to cost “in the neighborhood of” $3 million, were to be built on a 40-acre tract of land facing Sunset Boulevard near Bronson and would comprise 10 studios. The studios were to be the “largest moving pictures enterprise in the world.”

Reed, co-owner of the Bonnie-Reed Company and the inventor of embossed film, the most advanced motion picture technology at the time, planned to manufacture the film on site and sell it to his tenants at the studios.

The plans were announced at a City Council meeting as the council’s welfare committee was considering a request by Hollywood residents to exclude the lot on which the studio would be built from the motion picture zone, saying the property was too close to local homes. Reed appeared to protest the exclusion and admitted he was personally interested in developing the site.

The L.A. Times reported the project was a “dream” of the Bonnie-Reed Film Manufacturing Company and that it planned to “begin making film plays–as soon as the first unit of stage space is complete.”

February, 1971 — Getty Museum plans announced

Trustees of the J. Paul Getty Museum announced plans to build a museum modeled after the Roman Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum, overlooking the ocean at Will Rogers State Beach, the LA Times reported.

The new 79,000 square-foot building was to house the Getty collection, which had grown too large for the gallery adjacent to Jean Paul Getty’s nearby ranch. The property, which would also have a lecture hall and library, was to be the largest privately-owned museum of its day and would take two years to build.

The museum, designed by architects Robert E. Langdon, Ernest C. Wilson, Stephen Garrett and local art historian Dr. Norman Neuerburg, eventually opened in 1974. Oil-tycoon Getty died in 1976 after spending his twilight years in England. He is buried at the property, despite having never visited it in his lifetime, according to his obituary.

February, 1999 — Santa Monica high-rise sells for $90M

Asahi Urban Development made a deal to sell one of L.A.’s most desirable office buildings, a 21-story tower at 100 Wilshire in Santa Monica, for $90 million, the L.A. Times reported.

The deal was said to be of one the few cases in which a Japanese owner who purchased at the peak of the 1980s real estate boom actually made a profit on their investment. Asahi had paid a reported $73 million for the property in 1987. The buyer was Douglas Emmett.