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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Warner Bros. Modernizes Lot With Icebergs

 Warner Bros. Entertainment has experienced a lot change this year, from the launch of HBO Max in May to layoffs in the summer and fall to the delay on releasing films to theaters. The Burbank division of WarnerMedia, owned by AT&T Inc., has been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic along with the rest of the entertainment sector.But back in January, when the coronavirus was just starting to hit China, the company broke ground on its newest expansion – the Second Century Project on the Burbank Studios property.With two towers designed by noted architect Frank Gehry, the project is meant to celebrate the centennial of Warner Bros. founding in 1923. The towers have gained the nickname “iceberg buildings” because of their white blocky shape.Gov.

Gavin Newsom was among those in attendance at the Jan. 14 groundbreaking ceremony, along with Warner Bros. Entertainment Chief Executive Ann Sarnoff and architect Gehry.“This is a big deal,” Newsom told a crowd of some 300 people gathered on the Burbank Studios lot. “Not just to Burbank but to the entire region.”Mary Hamzoian, economic development manager for Burbank, said that the project shows the company is committed to the city and will be there for another 100 years.

With the Gehry towers, this isn’t just an office building but also reflects the city’s creativity and lets everyone know they have arrived at the center of the entertainment industry, Hamzoian said.

“This solidifies the fact that we are the media capital of the world, and when they see these iconic buildings they will definitely get that sense that they have arrived at Burbank,” she added.

The project will be built in two phases. Occupancy of Phase I is slated for 2022 with Phase II occupancy unfurling the following year. Currently excavation work is taking place on the first of the two towers, which Santa Monica firm Worthe Real Estate Group and partner Stockbridge Real Estate Fund will develop.The 800,000-square-foot office building complex will be built on the Burbank Studios property closest to the 134 freeway. It will consist of a seven-story building with about 355,000 square feet and a nine-story building with 445,000 square feet. Worthe demolished a large warehouse and three small bungalows near the warehouse to build the two new buildings.Land swap Worthe currently owns the Burbank Studios complex, which is home to soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” the IHeartRadio Theater and Blizzard eSports Arena, where Overwatch League competes.

The complex once served as the headquarters of NBC Entertainment as well as the site of Studio 1, where “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson and later Jay Leno was taped. Burbank Studios features production office space, eight soundstages, a mill building and a commissary.Warner Bros. will acquire all of the Burbank Studios property except for where the two new towers will be built in 2023. Also, it will sell to Worthe its Ranch property at 411 N. Hollywood Way in Burbank that same year.

The Ranch will continue to operate as a studio and office complex, with as much as 1 million square feet available for the potential development of more office and production facilities.In a fact sheet released by Warner Bros. about the Second Century Project, the company said it would vacate the Ranch because the Burbank Studios offers a better quality and greater number of soundstages and production office space.

“It will also afford Warner Bros. the option to expand its campus contiguously to the north and enable most of Warner Bros.’ employees and productions in Burbank to be housed on a studio campus controlled and secured by Warner Bros.,” the company said.

Also as part of the deal, Worthe and Stockbridge purchased three office buildings currently owned by Warner Bros.— the Triangle Building at 4001 W. Olive Ave., Glass Building at 3903 W. Olive Ave. and Wood Building at 111 N. Hollywood Way. The sale price for the three buildings was nearly $148 million, according to real estate database CoStar Group Inc.People are concerned about the future of office space, but Burbank and its economy are still going strong, Hamzoian said, adding that the city is looking past everything that is going on now with the coronavirus outbreak and to the future.

“Even though the Frank Gehry buildings won’t open until 2023, we are hoping at that time the office market will still be robust and people will be in a physical space for work and collaborating with each other in some shape or form,” she added.

– Mark R. Madler

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.

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