HomeCity NewsWarner Bros. Revamps Footprint in Burbank

Warner Bros. Revamps Footprint in Burbank

Warner Bros. is redeveloping its studio presence in Burbank, demolishing much of the historic Ranch Lot Studios, which is home to many well-known outdoor sets, to make way for soundstages in what developers are calling the “largest studio development in the country.”

Located a mile north of the studio’s main 100-acre lot in Burbank, the Warner Bros. Ranch Lot serves as a major hub of production activity in Burbank and houses the offices of both Warner Bros. Animation and The CW. First acquired and operated by Columbia Pictures in 1934 until Warner Bros. took ownership of the property in 1990, the Ranch Lot has famously been home to decades of iconic productions, ranging from classics such as “Bewitched” and “The Waltons” to the modern crime drama “Animal Kingdom” and fan favorite “Young Sheldon.”

Warner Bros. and longtime partner Worthe Real Estate Group recently reached a deal with investment firm Stockbridge for Warner Bros. to lease back from the developer a brand-new studio redevelopment that is planned on the Ranch Lot.

Worthe recently announced the $480 million financing deal, kicking off construction on the soundstage development. In addition to 16 new soundstages, the 926,000 total square foot studio campus, which is fully leased to Warner Bros., will also include a parking structure, a commissary, mill space and a 326,000-square-foot office complex on the 30-acre former Warner Bros. Ranch Lot.

The announcement was made recently by Jeff Nagler, president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Studio Operations, and Jeff Worthe, president of Worthe Real Estate Group.

“Continuing to enhance our state-of-the-art studios and full-service offerings for our productions and partners is a key priority for our company, and the new Ranch Lot development will certainly fulfill this goal in the Los Angeles area,” said Nagler.

Worthe Real Estate currently has 13 buildings in Burbank and continues to expand its presence in the city.

“Worthe and Stockbridge are excited to continue to expand our relationship with Warner Bros.,” said Worthe. “This new development, at 926,000 square feet including 16 soundstages, will be the largest studio development in the country when the project begins development next year.”

With the addition of these stages to the existing 32 across the studio’s main lot and eight at the Burbank Studios facility, Warner Bros. will provide a total of 56 soundstages to support Warner Bros.’ Los Angeles-based production activity upon taking up residence of the Ranch in 2025.

Many took to social media to express nostalgia for the old Ranch Lot, which is home to dozens of set houses and outdoor spaces, including houses from “Hocus Pocus,” “Blondie,” “National Lampoon’s Vacation” and the famous “Friends” fountain, three of which have already been demolished to make way for soundstages.

“I remember going there for the Actors and Others for Animals events in the 1970s. We had unlimited access to all the buildings. It was fascinating,” said one resident, Brent Brooks, on Facebook.

Warner Bros. hopes to take advantage of the new California infrastructure program, Senate Bill 1444, that encourages the construction of soundstages in the state.

Additionally, as part of this same agreement, Warner Bros. will purchase from Worthe and Stockbridge the remaining portion of the Burbank Studios campus situated adjacent to the Second Century development, providing the studio with additional production office space and eight soundstages, as well as a mill building and a commissary.

Warner Bros. Discovery turned 100 years old earlier this year, and to mark its century-long legacy — more than 90 years of it here in Burbank — the media giant dubbed its brand-new studio campuses, which are north of the 134 Freeway, Second Century.

This summer, Worthe and Stockbridge completed Second Century at Burbank Studios, an 800,000 square foot expansion of Warner Bros. Studios.

Through a deal first announced in April 2019, Worthe and Stockbridge will acquire the Ranch Lot property in 2023. As part of this agreement, Warner Bros. will become the sole long-term tenant to fully occupy two Frank Gehry-designed office buildings, known as the Second Century campus, currently under development on a portion of the nearby Burbank Studios site. This 800,000-square-foot office complex is owned and is being built by Worthe and Stockbridge.

The end goal is to have the Ranch Lot redevelopment expanded to connect with Second Century to create a larger continuous campus.

Plans for the new phase of Warner Bros.’ presence here in Burbank date back to 1997 when the city approved a 20-year development agreement that gave Warner Bros. the right to develop a total of 1,825,865 square feet on the property by 2017.

Throughout the last century, the studios have continually constructed soundstages, backlot sets and the pre- and post-productions facilities needed to bring every aspect of production to life.

First published in the December 2 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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