An independent television station announced plans Monday to build a major entertainment center in Hollywood that would complement the city's billion-dollar redevelopment effort and keep television production companies from leaving the area for greener pastures.
KTLA-TV and its parent company, Tribune Broadcasting Co., plan to build the $80-million center on the present site of KTLA and use it to house their own facilities as well as other entertainment companies, said Charles E. Hinds, a vice president at Tribune Broadcasting.
Under plans unveiled at a news conference, the center would be built in four phases over the next 10 years and would include 16-story and 20-story office towers, four major sound stages for filming television shows and as many as 2,500 parking spaces along Van Ness Avenue at Sunset Boulevard.
Since Tribune-related companies would require only a portion of that space, the entire project is being proposed "to meet the anticipated demand of entertainment companies seeking the glamour and identification of Hollywood," Hinds said. He said much of the tower office space would be rented to "post-production or animation companies, or someone else related to the industry."
Local officials and civic leaders immediately hailed the project, saying it was just what Hollywood needed to staunch the flow of entertainment companies leaving for Century City, Culver City, Burbank, the Santa Clarita Valley and other areas that have siphoned off entertainment-related businesses.
"I consider it a dramatic vote of confidence in the future of Hollywood," said Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Woo, who represents Hollywood and has been meeting with KTLA executives for months concerning the project.
"Entertainment industry firms need no longer contemplate leaving their longtime home to find room to grow," Woo said. "This is the first major example of what will keep Hollywood's reputation intact as the entertainment and media capital of the world."
The project will need approval from the city's Community Redevelopment Agency because it falls within the $922-million targeted redevelopment area in Hollywood.
CRA staff members have been working "very closely" with KTLA and Woo's office to develop acceptable plans for the center, said CRA spokesman Marc Littman.
"Not only is the center going to retain a major studio in Hollywood," Littman said, "but it will provide additional facilities for expansion of the entertainment industry in Hollywood as well, which has been a staple of the community dating back to the early part of this century."
Lack of space and better offers elsewhere have prompted some major production facilities and other related firms to leave Hollywood. Recently, for example, Woo noted, Fox Inc. announced plans to move KTTV Channel 11 from Hollywood to Century City.
The KTLA lot occupies an entire block of Sunset Boulevard, between Van Ness and Bronson avenues. KTLA, which has maintained a presence in Hollywood since 1939, has been on the lot since 1956, according to Ed Harrison, a spokesman for the station.
Company officials said the lot was originally the site of the first Warner Bros. Studio, and the place where talking pictures were born when Al Jolson recorded his first words in "The Jazz Singer" in 1927. In later years, Warner used the site to produce musicals and dramas.
Paramount Pictures Corp. purchased the studio as an annex for its Van Ness and Melrose studios in 1954. In 1956, KTLA--then owned by Paramount--moved onto the lot, according to KTLA. Cowboy star Gene Autry bought KTLA and the studio from Paramount in 1964 and sold it to Tribune Broadcasting in 1986.
Part of the lot, including a landmark building that currently houses KMPC Radio, would remain intact.