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Warner Bros. breaks ground on new soundstage

Construction of a new soundstage on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank will hopefully keep entertainment industry jobs in the state and the city, according to company officials.

On Monday, Warner Bros. and city officials gathered on a dirt plot next to Stages 28 and 28A to celebrate the upcoming building of the studio’s 36th soundstage, which will be called Stage 29.

The new 18,040-square-foot facility, which is expected to be completed and operational by June 2018, is not replacing the existing Stage 29 that is currently on the back lot. That soundstage will be renamed Stage 30, said Jon Gilbert, Warner Bros.’ president of worldwide studio facilities.

During the ceremony, Gilbert said the building will use the latest sustainable construction materials and use “silent air conditioning” for the television productions they expect to take residency there.

The new Stage 29 will have the latest bells and whistles, but Gilbert said that he is most excited about the number of jobs the soundstage will bring to the state and to Burbank, especially during a time when many television and movie productions have moved to other locations, such as Georgia and Canada.

Though the studios at Warner Bros. are near 100% capacity, Gilbert said he is confident the new facility will bring more jobs back to Burbank.

“When we think of the number of jobs, not just the Warner Bros. jobs, but also the caterers and community businesses that support the productions, it’s going to be in the hundreds,” Gilbert said after the ceremony. “I see this [upcoming] building as an opportunity for a lot more people to work and a lot more production people to stay close to their families instead of traveling to Canada.”

Burbank Mayor Will Rogers, who attended the ceremony along with the rest of his City Council colleagues, concurred with Gilbert, adding that he remembers a time when Warner Bros. had soundstages that were not being utilized.

With Nickelodeon unveiling its updated West Coast headquarters in Burbank earlier this year and seeing Warner Bros. moving forward with construction of another soundstage, seeing these studios continuing to settle their roots in the city, Rogers said it makes him feel reassured that they won’t leave Burbank like Lockheed Corp. did years ago.

“If suddenly [Warner Bros.] went belly up and sat vacant here, it would have a big impact on the community, as we learned during the writers’ strike,” Rogers said. “When you shut down production, it has such a ripple effect and hurts so many people ... So steps like this help us avoid steps like that.”

anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio

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