4S Bay Partners doubles size of Black-focused film campus in South LA

Expanded plans come as demand for soundstages falls in aftermath of Hollywood strikes

4S Bay Doubles Size of Black-Led Film Studios in South LA
4S Bay Partners' Steve Sarowitz; rendering of project expansion at 3701 and 3731-3761 Stocker Street (Getty, IMDB, Pantheon Business Consulting)

A Windy City developer wants to build five movie soundstages in South Los Angeles, doubling its plans for development while doubling down on a flagging industry.

An affiliate of 4S Bay Partners, suburban Chicago investment firm tied to billionaire Steve Sarowitz, has filed plans to build 257,000 square feet of film production facilities at 3701 Stocker Street, in Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw, CoStar News reported. It would replace a Mid-century office building.

The Highland, Ill.-based investor bought the 2-acre property near the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall in February 2021 for $24 million. The firm announced plans the following month to build an entertainment-related project on the site, along with other nearby properties it had purchased, but on a smaller scale than the plans in the new filing.

4S Bay Partners said three years ago its project aimed to serve “as a center of creativity and innovation for the Black community,” according to a statement. The developer also said it wanted to create economic opportunities for multicultural moviemakers, female filmmakers, creative arts workers and community nonprofits.

The company’s move to file plans for the motion picture production campus comes after a drop in entertainment industry demand.

Filming on-location plunged 36 percent in Los Angeles from October through December from a year ago, and was down 32 percent overall last year from 2022, according to FilmLA, which blamed the decline largely on last year’s Hollywood strikes.

The film and television industry cut nearly 50,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Streaming companies continued their pullback, with Amazon Prime and Netflix laying off workers.

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Yet 4S Bay Partners plows ahead — while doubling its plans for South L.A. The firm lists Sarowitz, who founded payroll services firm Paylocity in 1997, as a partner. He’s worth $2.3 billion, according to Forbes. 

4S is a family office led by Jessica Sarowitz, wife of Steve Sarowitz.

Nearly 18 months ago, Beverly Hills-based Pantheon Business Consulting, backed by $100 million from 4S Bay Partners, had planned to build 130,000 square feet of soundstages, offices and restaurants at 3701 and 3731-3761 Stocker Street.

The production campus, dubbed Stocker Street Creative, would take up a corner on Stocker Street, between Santa Rosalia and Don Felipe drives, across from Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

The 5-acre project would partially replace Mid-century brick medical and office buildings, while preserving two of the buildings for adaptive reuse as culturally significant for having housed some of the first Black doctors and dentists in South Los Angeles.

— Dana Bartholomew

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Pantheon Business Consulting's Stan Washington, 4S Bay Partners' Jessica Sarowitz and rendering of project at 3701 and 3731-3761 Stocker Street (Pantheon Business Consulting, 4S Bay Partners, Getty, Stocker Street Creative)
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