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LOS ANGELES-The once-promising Shubert Theater and the rest of the giant ABC Entertainment Center in Century City will be demolished to make way for $280 million worth of new office towers and retail space, local brokers and a Shubert Theater spokesman say.

Rumors have been floating around for the past few years that the ‘70s-era entertainment complex, directly across from the Century Plaza Hotel on Avenue of the Stars, would be razed to make room for a modern office and retail facility. The site is controlled by Trammell Crow Co. and a partnership of New York-based JP Morgan and the General Motors Corp. and AT&T pension funds.

Late last week, new rumors began circulating that Trammell Crow had finally decided to pull the trigger. That culminated yesterday, when a published statement by the NY-based company that operates the Shubert said the theater would be replaced and a source familiar with Trammell Crow’s plans told GlobeSt.com that demolition could begin next year.

“The Shubert Organization is saddened and disappointed the ownership of the ABC Entertainment Center has decided to replace the existing complex with a new office building,” says Shubert spokesman Lee Silver, reading from a prepared statement. “The Shubert Organization built the theater and operated the building since its opening in July 1972.”

The 1,800-seat theater will cease operations in September 2002, Silver says. He wouldn’t elaborate further.

Officials in the LA office of Trammell Crow aren’t talking either, at least for the record. But a source there tells GlobeSt.com that the company has “finally decided to go forward with the project,” although an exact timetable for demolition and new construction “hasn’t been set because there are a lot of variables, including getting the financing lined up and moving the existing tenants out.”

Hunt Barnett, a senior managing director at Insignia/ESG who says he has seen Trammell’s plans for the new project, says the Shubert and adjacent 2020 and 2050 Avenue of the Stars office buildings will be razed. They would be replaced by two 15- or 16-story office buildings–plus about 50,000 sf of ground-floor retail space–that could open around 2005.

When the Shubert Theater opened in 1972, the local press hailed it as an “architectural landmark” whose live theater productions would surely catapult LA into the cultural elite of such cities as New York and London. But it had more misses than hits: Several of its biggest productions reportedly lost money, and even “A Chorus Line”—which played to sold-out audiences on Broadway for nearly 20 years—ended its run at the Shubert after an 18-month engagement.

Currently, the Shubert is offering a revival of the musical “Kiss Me, Kate.” The center’s signature tenant, entertainment conglomerate ABC, moved the last of its employees out of the Century City development and into new headquarters space in Burbank last year.

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