$150 mil prod’n house proposed

In response to what some entertainment industry mavens view as a shortage of Los Angeles area production facilities, an investor group announced Monday its plans to begin building a $150 million, 12-acre studio in Culver City by late 1998.

The facility, called LuxCore Studios, would be built at the corner of Slauson Boulevard at the east terminus of the Marina Freeway. Initial occupant move in is planned for the beginning of the year 2000.

The investor group, which includes representatives of Los Angeles-based RoTo Architects and Swiss development and construction company Kistler A.G., will make a presentation to community members tonight in Culver City.

The hearing will be attended by Culver City City Council members as well as the Culver City Redevelopment Agency and several home owners associations.

Investors, backed by Kistler A.G., have secured financing for the land purchase. Although in escrow on the Culver City parcel, the group has not finalized financing for construction of the studio. Martin Kistler is a co-controlling partner of the project.

LuxCore is planned as a “cohesive environment” that “would be designed from the ground up, and would be a center of collaboration for film, television and new media,” said James Magowan, co-controlling partner of LuxCore. Magowan acknowledged that “we are in the early stages of planning.”

Lead architects and investors on the project are Michael Rotondi and Clark Stevens of RoTo, which designed the Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center and Kate Mantilini restaurant in Beverly Hills. The planned studio would include 12 soundstages ranging from 5,000 sq. feet to 20,000 square feet, a 1,700 car parking structure, production offices, craft shops and a 400-room hotel with restaurant.

Industry observers, although bereft of extensive detail, say LuxCore could fill a demand.

“I welcome any new production facilities that provides space at a reasonable cost with appropriate services,” Gary Ehrlich, senior VP of studio operations at 20th Century Fox told Daily Variety. “The proliferation of warehouses and other manufacturing environments that are being retrofitted for production is indicative of the amount of content of the many distribution channels out there, and the overwhelming capacity of the major motion picture studios.”

Cody Cluff, president of the Los Angeles film industry permit office and industry liaison Entertainment Industry Development Corp., says that the region needs more infrastructure to accommodate growth as well as compete with the sprouting of facilities in places such as North Carolina and Canada.

In the next five to 10 years, “there will be a real deficiency of good sound-stage space, particularly stages of more than 15,000 square feet,” Cluff said.

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