First published in the Oct. 23 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Warner Bros.’ historic Ranch Lot, which has been used for exterior film scenes for Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. for decades, will be redeveloped to include 16 sound stages in what the new owners said this week will be the largest studio development in the United States.
Warner Bros. sold the lot to Worthe Real Estate Group, which is developing the sound stages, along with a connected production support space, a multi-level parking structure, a commissary, mill space and a 320,000-square-foot office complex. Warner Bros. will lease back the property starting in 2025.
“We are very pleased to further our ongoing relationship with Jeff Worthe and his outstanding team, and we’re excited for this opportunity to utilize the best-in-class Ranch property that the Worthe Group is creating over the next few years,” said Jeff Nagler, president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Studio Operations. “Continuing to enhance our state-of-the-art studios and full-service offerings for our productions and partners is a key priority for our company, and the new Ranch Lot development will certainly fulfill this goal in the Los Angeles area.”
With the addition of 16 new sound stages, the Burbank facility will offer 56 sound stages to support WarnerMedia’s production activity in Los Angeles once it takes occupancy of the Ranch in 2025.
“This new development, at 926,000 square feet including 16 sound stages, will be the largest studio development in the country when the project begins development next year,” said Jeff Worthe, president of Worthe Real Estate Group.
Worthe and Warner Bros. announced a deal in April 2019 that transfers ownership of the Ranch Lot to Worthe and the San Francisco-based investment firm Stockbridge in 2023. Warner Bros. will occupy two Frank Gehry-designed office buildings, called the Second Century campus, that are currently under development by Worthe and Stockbridge.
State Sen. Anthony Portantino, a La Cañada Flintridge Democrat whose district includes Burbank, praised the development plan, saying it will provide more production jobs in California, as it reaches studio capacity.
“I am ecstatic to see the Worthe Group and Warner Bros. partner to construct 16 new sound stages in Senate District 25. Our tax incentives are working and supporting much-needed production activity,” Portantino said. “In recent years, construction of sound stages has not kept pace with the growth in film production, scripted television, and streaming content.”
He added that he hopes Warner Bros. and other studios will take advantage of a new state economic development program offering $150 million in incentives tied to the construction of soundstages. The program is part of Senate Bill 144, which Portantino authored.
“Entertainment is a core industry in California and one that is essential to the state’s economic success, as well as the vitality of my district. Modernizing our studio infrastructure creates good paying jobs and ensures that California will remain the entertainment capital of the world,” he said.
— City News Service