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Chatsworth Year Founded: 1888 Origins: Named after the Duke of Devonshire’s estate in England, the town started as an agricultural enclave known as Chatsworth Park. In 1915, it joined Los Angeles to plug into the Owens River for irrigation. Later, the area’s rugged scenery attracted filmmakers for the setting of television shows like “Lone Ranger,” “Bonanza” and “Lassie.’ Toward the end of the 1960s, aerospace and high-tech industry started moving in. Business Profile: The southern portion of Chatsworth is mainly high-tech industry mixed with financial institutions and light industrial and office space. By JENNIFER NETHERBY Staff Reporter Twenty years ago, the Winnetka Drive-In in south Chatsworth screened the most popular movies, while television producers used the community as a backdrop for “Bonanza” and other popular shows. Today, the massive Winnetka All Stadium 20 multiplex the second largest theater in the San Fernando Valley has replaced the six drive-in screens. Its opening is steadily attracting more retail to the area. Nearby, several new office buildings are going up, and high-tech companies occupy industrial space near credit unions and self-storage businesses. The theater is one of several projects transforming what had long been a quiet industrial area into one with a more diverse base of retail, government and entertainment uses. “It’s like a northern Warner Center,” said Madeline Schwartz, a CB Commercial broker in the area. “There’s the typical high-tech tenants and then there’s insurance and health care companies.” Redeveloping the drive-in was the linchpin of change. In its final years, the site was used as a swap meet during weekend days, while movies were shown at night. Then in 1996, Pacific Theatres Corp. tore it down and opened the 20-screen Winnetka Stadium theater, a 120,000-square-foot facility boasting 70-foot screens and a 5,900-person seating capacity. “With the public getting a presentation with better sound and clarity and wall-to-wall screens, the days of the drive-in were numbered,” said Chan Wood, vice president of Pacific Theatres. “We made the judgment to build a tremendous walk-in facility.” Wood said Pacific chose that location for the theater because it already owned the land. “We had the property, we had the location,” he said. “It was a very populated part of the Valley.” The multiplex is just a mile away from another Pacific-owned theater the Pacific Theatres Fashion Center 10 in Northridge. That didn’t prevent it from posting revenue of $12 million in its opening year, making it the eighth highest grossing theater nationwide, according to Entertainment Data Inc. Meanwhile , the mall space at the complex has filled with coffee shops and eateries, and area brokers say a variety of other retail businesses are interested in the location. “I get a tremendous amount of calls from retail tenants to be in that area,” said Westcord leasing agent Tony Principe. “They’re mostly mom-and-pop retail shops, dry cleaners, restaurants, a little of everything.” Principe handles office leasing at a 25,000-square-foot building that Telesis Federal Credit Union is constructing across the street from the theater. At Storage USA, which faces the multiplex, manager Leann Miller said business has picked up. “(People) think we’re brand new, but the property’s been here 25 years,” Miller said. “A lot of people just ignored the area. We get a lot more walk-in traffic now.” Additional restaurants also are interested in joining the mix. “I think you’re seeing a number of restaurants and people playing off the theater crowds,” said CB Commercial retail broker Greg Whitney. Despite the activity, Whitney doesn’t expect the area to upstage Northridge Fashion Center as the main retail draw in the area. The biggest changes for the south Chatsworth area may be yet to come. A new L.A. County courthouse is planned a couple of blocks north on the corner of Winnetka Avenue and Plummer Street, and should open in several years. Meanwhile, more credit unions and industrial projects are in the pipeline. “There’s a lot of good activity in that area,” said Jocelyn Henry, business developer representative with the Mayor Richard Riordan’s economic development team. “It’s a great melting pot of different types of companies.”

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