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WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA-The Hollywood-based CIM Group plans to begin construction next year on a 400,000-sf class A office development, called the Lot, that will rise at the site of the former Warner Hollywood Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard. CIM, which acquired the property in late August, has already secured entitlements for the four-building project.

The new development will target the “tremendous demand for creative offices in the Los Angeles area,” according to Jeff Kreshek, a principal of the CIM Group. He says that the L.A. area offers “very few options” for companies seeking large blocks of creative office space.

The buildings will be set around existing studio facilities, which comprise 312,000 sf, with seven sound stages and several service buildings. CIM says that the studio facilities will continue to operate, with Skye Partners managing their day-to-day operations.

The site of the Lot development is at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Formosa Avenue, just west of La Brea and south of Sunset and Hollywood boulevards. CIM envisions “the blending of the existing historic structures and the new buildings to create a relaxed office campus with the character of a studio lot.”

The 11-acre former Warner studios have been a fixture in the entertainment industry since 1920. What was once an out-of-town location for movie makers now sits in the middle of West Hollywood with its shops, restaurants and residential areas.

The growth that has occurred around the studio will work to the advantage of the new project, according to CIM. Kreshek points out that employees at the new offices will be able to walk to nearby restaurants and retail stores. He adds that the CIM Group will offer several new on-site amenities and that the developer will both maintain and improve the existing studio commissary.

The CIM Group estimates that the new buildings will be completed and ready for occupancy by year-end 2009 or early 2010. The new buildings will be designed by HLW architects, with two of the four to be 150,000 sf each and six stories each, with the others varying in size and configuration.

The Lot project will take shape on one of the most storied movie studio sites in the L.A. area. The first production space was built on the Lot in 1920 for Hampton Studios and a few years later it became the Pickford-Fairbanks Studios.

In 1928 Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffiths joined with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks to found United Artists, which operated at the site for many years. Later it would become the Samuel Goldwyn Studios and in 1980 Warner Brothers acquired it as an auxiliary studio.

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