Worthe eyes biggest studio in business on Warner Bros. lot

Sale-leaseback comes with plans for nearly 1M sf of new space in Burbank

One of the exterior shots at the current Ranch Lot (Warner Brothers, Getty)
One of the exterior shots at the current Ranch Lot (Warner Brothers, Getty)

Worthe Real Estate Group plans to turn the Warner Bros. Ranch Lot in Burbank into what it’s calling the largest studio development in the country.

The firm plans to build 926,000 square feet of new space on the property, including 16 sound stages, a 320,000-square-foot office complex, other production support space, a parking structure and commissary, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

Warner Bros. sold the property to Worthe, and plans to remain there under terms of the sales-leaseback deal. The planned redevelopment is part of a larger deal struck in 2019 between Worthe, Warner Bros., and San Francisco-based investment firm Stockbridge.

That deal also saw Warner Bros. buy 35 acres of Burbank Studios from Worthe and Stockbridge and agree to move a portion of its operations into an 800,000-square-foot office complex on seven acres retained by the two firms.

The Burbank Studios complex was designed by Frank Gehry’s Gehry Partners. Warner Bros. also sold three other smaller properties to the partners.

A scene in the current Ranch Lot (Warner Brothers)

A scene in the current Ranch Lot (Warner Brothers)

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The Ranch Lot sits about a mile northwest of Burbank Studios. It’s currently home to five soundstages, some offices, and exterior sets that mimic other locations, including a block of brownstones and a stretch of suburban homes.

The property was used for Hollywood productions starting in the 1930s, first by Columbia Pictures Corp. It’s been used in hundreds of films and television productions, including “Lethal Weapon” and “Friends” in the 1990s.

The growth of the streaming content sector has sent demand for production space through the roof. L.A. is home to 5.2 million square feet of certified production space, according to the L.A. Times, and developers are scrambling to add more and capitalize on demand.

Hackman Capital Partners and Hudson Pacific Properties have become some of the biggest players in the space, each gobbling up existing space and adding new space to the pipeline.

Blackstone last year bought a 49 percent stake in HPP’s studio and office portfolio. Earlier this year they announced plans to build a 10-acre complex in Sun Valley.

[LADN] — Dennis Lynch