In late March, Hackman Capital Partners and its studio operator partner, The MBS Group, announced plans to develop the 25-acre Television City site at Beverly Blvd. and Fairfax Avenue in the Beverly/Fairfax District.
Dubbed the “Television City 2050 Specific Plan” (TVC 2050), the plan would provide state-of-the-art modernization of the production facilities within the Television City studio property, explained the developer’s press release. The estimated $1.25 billion investment aims to balance economic growth, community input, and historic preservation, allowing Television City to meet the constantly evolving physical and technological demands of the entertainment industry, and reaffirm the studio’s role as a jobs engine in the City, according to Hackman’s communications team.
Hackman Capital Partners acquired the historic CBS Television City site in 2018 for a reported $750 million. In June 2018, the Los Angeles Conservancy successfully nominated and listed the studio as a Los Angeles City Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM). According to the Conservancy, Television City was one of the first and largest complexes built expressly for television production and broadcasting. At the time, CBS hired prolific local architecture firm Pereira & Luckman, with Gin Wong serving as lead designer, to design the new headquarters, which contained soundstages, studios, editing rooms, offices, rehearsal halls, shops, and storage.
The Conservancy worked with Hackman Capital on the Culver Studios project but its was less than enthusiastic about the CBS specific plan announced last month. In an Instagram post, the Conservancy wrote the following and urged readers to share their own thoughts:
“Today, plans were revealed for a $1.25-billion overhaul to historic CBS Television City (1952) in the Fairfax District. The Conservancy, which initiated and worked very closely with CBS on the studio’s Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) designation in 2018, has long-anticipated new development on the parcels around the historic building.
While we support density and are glad to see reinvestment and job creation, we have serious concerns about where the density is being placed in the proposed new construction and how it will impact the historic studio building. As currently envisioned, a new multi-story building is to be built directly on top of the HCM-designated historic studio building.
Looming large over CBS Television City, we believe this to be incompatible and potentially jeopardize its historic status. We believe there is a win-win opportunity and are hopeful we can work with the owners, Hackman Capital, toward a solution that will allow for expansion while still maintaining the look and feel of the beloved and iconic CBS Television City studio.”
Local preservationists who worked on the HCM were more pointed in their criticism.
“After following and being in contact with the community relations representatives involved with the Television City Project since the sale to Hackman Capital, I was caught off guard by the release of the renderings in the LA Times and elsewhere in the media,” Keith Nakata, a former chair of the Mid City West Community Council’s Land Use Committee, who works in the film industry, told the Buzz.
“While pleased to maintain the use as a film studio, I feel the project is overreaching for the site and will have negative impacts for the surrounding neighborhoods because of the proposed enormous increase in capacity,” he added.
“The proposed project also has the potential to jeopardize the historic status of the Historic Studio Building designed by William Pereira and lead designer Gin Wong because of the proposed office building would be built on top and dominates the resource,” said Nakata. “William Pereira has designed some of LA’s most iconic mid-century buildings, many of his significant works have been recently slated for demolition. The failure of Hackman Capital to discuss these major issues prior to the public release of the project renderings appears to be a disregard to the preservation community and the surrounding residents.”
Others in the community expressed frustration because there’s no housing in the project. A spokesperson for Hackman Capital said housing was never considered as an element of the project, adding that the use of the site has always been for television production. The proposed plan calls for capacity for at least 15 modern, purpose-built sound stages, production office and support space, enhanced public realm, above and below grade parking, a transportation demand management program, and a new multi-modal mobility hub.
However, local leaders like Lyn MacEwen Cohen continue to support the community investment aspect of the project. Cohen, the Founding President of the First in Fire Foundation, and president and founder of the Miracle Mile Civic Coalition, told the Buzz she applauds Hackman’s commitment to the community. (Hackman coordinated with the Mid City West Community Council on a recent homeless count.)
“The extraordinary support from Television City has substantially made a quality-of-life difference in the economic vitality of the Beverly/Fairfax District. They are an exemplary good neighbor and a community asset — inspiring examples of civic philanthropy,” said Cohen.
That sentiment was shared by Jacqueline Canter, co-owner of Canter’s Deli and founder of the Fairfax Business Association.
“We are ecstatic and appreciative that Hackman Capital Partners will maintain Television City as a studio. This plan would restore economic vitality to our neighborhood while offering new opportunities for surrounding businesses and residents,” said Canter in the press release announcing the plans.
A study conducted by Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) determined Hackman Capital Partners’ planned investment will result in $2.1 billion in total economic output during construction, sustaining an estimated annual average of 4,220 direct, indirect, and induced jobs throughout construction. Upon completion, TVC 2050 will generate $2.4 billion annually in new economic output and support an estimated 18,760 direct, indirect, and induced jobs once operational.
“Television City is one of the great Hollywood studio lots. We are committed to ensuring it remains a robust job creator and world-class studio for decades to come,” said Michael Hackman, Founder and CEO of Hackman Capital Partners, owners of Television City since 2019. “Los Angeles lacks the modern sound stages and production facilities to meet market demand, putting our region at risk of seeing the entertainment industry leave the state if we fail to invest in its future.”
“Architect William Pereira’s original plan for the studio focused on flexibility and adaptability, calling for the eventual relocation, adaptation, and development of 24 stages and 2.5 million square feet of production space, including several multi‐story office buildings,” said Bob Hale, Creative Director of RIOS, Project Master Plan Architect in the announcement. “TVC 2050 realizes Pereira’s futuristic vision, allowing the studio to accommodate evolving technologies, sustainable infrastructure, and enhanced community and production experiences.”
Hackman’s plans were not unexpected and are likely to take time to develop providing opportunities for refinements and changes. An Environment Impact Review (EIR) is like to begin next year, according to a media contact for project. Despite their initial reaction, however, officials at the Conservancy told the Buzz they were hopeful they could work through the design issues on the project.
Images below were provided by Hackman Capital.
Yes! No Century City 2. Thank you CBS!!!!