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Thursday, Feb 29, 2024

Gehry, Governor Attend Iceberg Event

he Governor of California, the world’s most famous living architect and a new studio head all gathered in Burbank Jan. 14 to officially kick off a groundbreaking for Warner Bros. Entertainment’s Second Century Project, a reconfiguration of its studio real estate. “This is a big deal,” Gov. Gavin Newsom told a crowd of some 300 people gathered on the Burbank Studios lot. “Not just to Burbank but to the entire region.” Newsom, along with architect Frank Gehry and newly minted Warner Bros. Entertainment Chief Executive Ann Sarnoff came to launch construction on the “Iceberg Buildings,” the nickname for the new Gehry-designed offices due in 2023. Last year, Warner Bros., a unit of AT&T Inc. and the studio behind the Harry Potter, Godzilla, King Kong and DC Superhero movie franchises, purchased a portion of the Burbank Studios to become the sole and long-term tenant of the two Gehry towers, which Santa Monica firm Worthe Real Estate Group and partner Stockbridge Real Estate Fund will develop. Worthe Real Estate Group President Jeff Worthe told the audience that this project will take 200 million hours of work to complete. He half-joked that employees will have to rough it during the construction phases, “living in that wonderful brown trailer for the next four years.” “Warner Brothers is a legendary company,” Gehry, 90, said from the podium. “We had to give it a legendary building.” He added, half-jokingly, “It’s hard to do buildings like this, the budgets are always tight.” Sarnoff and Burbank Mayor Sharon Springer also spoke from the dais. “We are the media capital of the world,” Springer said, adding that with iconic Gehry buildings gracing such cities as Los Angeles, Barcelona and Shanghai, thanks to the Warner Bros. project, “Burbank is a world-class city.” Last April, Warner Bros. Entertainment announced the major expansion plans for its Burbank headquarters, which will include the acquisition of a nearby studio complex. Also as part of the deal, Worthe and Stockbridge purchased three office buildings currently owned by Warner Bros.— Triangle Building at 4001 West Olive Ave., Glass Building at 3903 West Olive Ave. and Wood Building at 111 N. Hollywood Way — as well as the 30-acre Warner Bros. Ranch located on Hollywood Way. Warner Bros. called the development Second Century Project in homage to the movie studio’s centennial, which it will celebrate in 2023 with the project’s completion. Occupancy of Phase I is slated for 2022 with Phase II occupancy unfurling the following year. At the reception, which had as its centerpiece a full-scale model of the iceberg buildings, groups of employees from Playa Vista-based Gehry Partners, Worthe and Stonebridge celebrated over wine and charcuterie spreads, as did Warner Bros. personnel, such as fan-favorite DC Comics artist and current Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment Jim Lee. Near the bar, Worthe discussed “the complexity of the transaction” with the Business Journal. “This transaction took well over seven years to put together,” said Worthe, whose portfolio includes The Pointe, The Pinnacle and Central Park in the Burbank Media District, adding that the city of Burbank had been a pleasure to work with “to get something of this size and scale.” The project now awaits approvals from the city of Los Angeles.

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