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Apple plants a flag in Culver City, further expanding its presence in Hollywood

Apple plants a flag in Culver City, further expanding its presence in Hollywood
Apple, known for its devices including the iPhone, is boosting its physical presence in Hollywood by leasing a building in Culver City, where it will base its original content business. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

As it forges ahead into original programming, Apple Inc. will elevate its physical presence in Hollywood in a significant way by planting a flag in Culver City.

The Cupertino, Calif., tech giant will lease an entire building at 8777 Washington Blvd., near Culver City's fashionable art gallery district, Culver City officials said.

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"Culver City is looking forward to Apple growing its operations in our community," Culver City Mayor Jeffrey Cooper said in a statement. Citing century-old ties to the movie industry, Cooper said the Apple facility will "enhance the city's already robust creative economy."

Apple will lease a new building owned by mega-developer Lincoln Property Co. that features 128,000 square feet of office and retail space spread across four stories, people familiar with the plans said. The site, which HBO had once planned to lease, is at Washington and National boulevards near Culver City's Metro Expo Line station.

Apple will use the space to build out its original content business, which has been gaining steam in recent months as the company looks to make its name in the competitive digital streaming market.

Last year, Apple brought on board Sony Pictures Television Presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg to oversee the company's original production business.

The building will also house parts of Apple Music. Apple already has a presence in Culver City, through its Apple Music and Beats Electronics headquarters at 8600 Hayden Place.

Apple has budgeted about $1 billion for programming to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon.com. Among the shows reportedly in the Apple pipeline is a comedy series starring Kristen Wiig and produced by Reese Witherspoon.

The company has also struck a deal to make a new version of Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories," the Emmy-winning sci-fi anthology series that ran on NBC from 1985 to 1987.

Apple's move could be an economic boon to Culver City and its reputation as an expanding digital media center, though the effect will depend on how much of Apple's content will be original programs versus programs licensed from other studios, said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute's Center for Regional Economics and California Center.

"All indications are that Apple will move in the direction of creating their own content, but they're not there yet," Klowden said. A higher ratio of originally produced shows would lead to a greater economic effect in terms of employment, he said.

Apple had been eyeing space at the historic Culver Studios in Culver City. But in October, Amazon announced that it would be picking up stakes from Santa Monica and leasing more than 280,000 square feet of space at Culver Studios that will serve as home for its Amazon Studios division as well as IMDb, Amazon Video and other groups.

Culver City is not providing any incentives to Apple for this project. The city has been the longtime home of Sony Pictures Studios, between West Washington Boulevard and Culver Boulevard. News of Apple's lease agreement was first reported by the Real Deal.

Netflix has also been expanding its physical presence in L.A. The streaming giant has a long-term lease at Sunset Bronson Studios in Hollywood. Netflix is occupying soundstages at the lot on Sunset Boulevard as well as a new office building that serves as the company's L.A. headquarters.

On Wednesday, Apple said it would repatriate billions of dollars to the U.S. from overseas in response to President Trump's tax cut, which was signed into law last month. The company also said it plans to invest more than $30 billion in the U.S. during the next five years to create more than 20,000 jobs.

Apple declined to comment on its plans.

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UPDATES:

4:00 p.m.: This article has been updated with a statement from Culver City.

12:22 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details.

This article was originally published at 10:30 a.m.

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