Bardas Investment plans production studio at former Sears

$450M complex in Hollywood would include office space

Bardas Investment Group founder David Simon and the site of the project. (Google Maps, Bardas, Getty)
Bardas Investment Group founder David Simon and the site of the project. (Google Maps, Bardas, Getty)

UPDATED, 5:25 a.m., May 5, 2021: Demand for film and production space in Los Angeles is booming and now Bardas Investment Group and Bain Capital Real Estate want in.

The firms plan to develop a production studio and office complex at the site of a defunct Sears store in Hollywood, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the story. The project will cost $450 million, according to Commercial Observer, which provided additional details.

West Hollywood-based Bardas and Bain would build five soundstages and two five-story office buildings totaling 350,000 square feet, along with other production support facilities, the Times reported. Bardas is calling the project Echelon Studios.

The development site totals about five acres at 5601 Santa Monica Boulevard, an area that is now mostly parking.

As the streaming services have grown, so too has the need for more office and production space in the city. Netflix signed the biggest office lease of last year to establish its first in-house animation studio in Burbank.

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Unlike the sinking office market, the occupancy rate for production space in the Greater L.A. region has remained above 90 percent for the last few years, according to FilmLA. Demand is expected to increase as pandemic-related restrictions are lifted and film projects ramp up.

Hackman Capital Partners is gobbling up studio space across L.A. with plans to expand many of those properties. And Hudson Pacific Properties now owns about 1 million square feet of the 5.2 million square feet of leasable soundstages in L.A. County. Blackstone bought a stake in that portfolio last summer.

Bardas is working on two other projects in Hollywood. In February, the firm released plans for a 68,000-square-foot office project on the corner of Melrose Avenue and Seward Street. It is also overhauling an office building on Fountain Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard.

[LAT] — Dennis Lynch 

This story was updated to include the estimated cost of the project and the addition of Bain Capital as a partner in the planned development.