Hollywood’s Television Center readies for $600M makeover

Bardas expansion would retain Art Deco elements in 620K sf studio-office complex

Bardas Investment Group's David Simon with 6311 Romaine Street
Bardas Investment Group's David Simon with 6311 Romaine Street (Rios, LinkedIn)

An Art Deco studio in Hollywood that created “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Singin’ in the Rain” is poised for a $600 million makeover.

The owner of the historic studio now called Television Center is filing plans to add four soundstages, two six-story office buildings and a restaurant at 6311 Romaine Street, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Bardas Investment Group, based in West Hollywood, and Bain Capital Real Estate of Boston bought the former Technicolor and Metro Pictures studios in March for $135 million, more than twice what the previous owner paid for the 6.5-acre site in 2020.

Bardas aims to create a 620,000-square-foot studio-office complex on two city blocks with elements of a classic Hollywood film studio. Underground parking would serve 1,000 cars.

“It’s intended for all entertainment media users,” Managing Principal David Simon told the Times. “We want to keep Hollywood in Hollywood.”

Simon hopes to break ground within 18 months, with construction expected to take two years.

The new Echelon at Television Center, as it would be called, would preserve the original Art Deco structures.

On the north block, the former Technicolor facility was built between 1930 and 1966, and has 183,000 square feet of office and studio space, including a small soundstage.

Plans for the north block include adding a six-story office building with outdoor terraces facing the Hollywood Hills, plus a street-level restaurant and coffee shop open to the public. The remaining studio would be closed to visitors.

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The block south of Romaine was once the lot of Metro Pictures, which became part of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the 1920s, which employed such stars as Rudolph Valentino and Lillian Gish.

Plans for the south block include replacing a parking lot with four large soundstages, a base camp and another six-story office building.

The result would transform dated facilities into a more modern studio that will rent production facilities to companies that make movies and television shows.

Developers, spurred by streaming platforms such as Netflix and Apple TV+, are now upgrading old studios such as Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank and Universal Studios.

They’re also building new studios, including one on the site of a former Sears store in Hollywood – a $450 million Bardas studio project dubbed Echelon Studios – and another at the Los Angeles Times’ printing plant in Downtown L.A.

Film and television producers take up some of the largest office space in the Los Angeles market, leasing 17.7 million square feet as of 2020, real estate brokerage CBRE said. Los Angeles County has 5.4 million square feet of certified stage space in 398 stages, according to FilmLA.

Though Greater 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 advisory Deloitte said in a report last year.

“To meet the booming demand, supply would need to more than double in Los Angeles County,” Deloitte said.

Dana Bartholomew