The Filmland Corporate Center, one of 13 projects begun by the redevelopment agency in Culver City during the last 10 months, will open its doors this week in what city officials hope will result in the rejuvenation of the downtown area.
Executives of the Filmcorp Group, the Canadian investment firm that built the center, plan to move into the eight-story, red-and-pink-granite Filmland center Friday. Nine film and other entertainment businesses will set up shop a month later.
One of them is Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which has rented an entire floor and is considering renting two additional floors. Work on the building's interior, however, will continue through January.
City officials hope Filmland will revive the city's image, which flourished when it was the site of several major movie studios, including David O. Selznick, Hal Roach and MGM.
Bruce Mallen, president and owner of Filmcorp, has said he wants a facility catering mainly to the recent influx of small, free-lance film producers and marketing specialists. The building will include restaurants, a discotheque, screening rooms, retail stores, a health club and an entertainment industry library run by graduate students from USC and UCLA.
The center is 40% occupied so far, Mallen said.
Located on a block bounded by Culver and Washington boulevards and Duquesne Avenue, Filmland is only Culver City's second major downtown area development since officials formed its redevelopment agency in 1971. The first was the three-story Meralta Plaza office building, completed in 1983.
Recent plans for another downtown area project, a 100,000-square-foot office building on 1.5 acres of vacant land, were withdrawn by the developer for undisclosed reasons after the redevelopment agency had bought nearly all the property and had torn down many small buildings.
Developers are not likely to purchase property and build in the city's blighted downtown area without the continued help of the redevelopment agency, which has the power to condemn property, said Greg Gann, vice president for Grubb & Ellis Co., a commercial real estate company.
Since last fall, more than a dozen office and residential projects outside the downtown area have been finished or are in planning stages, many of them in the Fox Hills area of southern Culver City. The projects represent more than 2.25 million square feet of office space and more than 600 housing units. About a third of the housing units are earmarked for senior citizens.
Some of the tenants in new office developments in Fox Hills include Wang and Texas Instruments. Gann said that Culver City officials have approved building plans with fewer and less strict conditions than other cities. "Culver City has a reputation for being reasonable with developers," he said. "So they are getting some of the development that would have landed in Santa Monica or West Los Angeles."
One-third of Culver City's land is within three redevelopment districts. Land that once was the site of a go-cart business, riding stables and movie back lots now houses shopping centers, office buildings, hotels, banks and condominium complexes.
The redevelopment agency bought 50 acres in Fox Hills that in 1974 became the massive Fox Hills Mall, the city's first major redevelopment project. The indoor mall generates about $8 million in sales and property taxes for the city and the agency.
Since then, the city has seen three hotels, four banks, a 26-acre business park, two large condominium projects and dozens of smaller office, retail and residential projects spring up.
Debt Is $119 Million
The agency's debt incurred by redevelopment is $119 million as of last year, according to Richard Ballard of the county auditor-controller's office. In 1984, when the agency's debt was $115 million, 35% of the city's property tax revenue went to debt payments, which is not unusually high, Ballard said.
City and agency officials said that the system will eventually work in the city's favor because new development earns higher property taxes. The condemnation, planning and building processes can take years, and the agency must wait for higher tax revenue from new development to trickle in and help pay off its debts.
PLANS FOR REVIVAL
These are projects that have been planned, started or completed since the fall of 1985. All but the Megdal, Studio Villa Estates and Southern Pacific projects were arranged by the city's Redevelopment Agency.
Project Description Status Corporate Pointe 1.55 million sq. ft., Under office/retail/restaurant construction Culver City 100 units senior housing Completed Rotary Plaza Filmland Corporate 320,000 sq. ft., Near Center office Completion Hampshire 28,000 sq. ft., Completed office/industrial Megdal 58,000 sq. ft., Completed retail/commercial Meralta Plaza, 50,000 sq. ft., office Construction Phase II to begin 1988 Rackow 19,900 sq. ft., office Completed RBP Development Corp. 86,000 sq. ft., Completed office/industrial Southern Pacific 40,000-60,000 sq. ft., Plans under Railroad industrial negotiation Studio Drive-In 300 units mixed residential Plans expected in August Studio Villa Estates, 31 units, single-family Completed Phase V residential Studio Villa Estates, 125,000 sq. ft., office, Near completion Phase VI 192 units senior housing Toyota/Chevrolet 3.7 acres, commercial Plans under Dealerships negotiation
Source: Culver City Redevelopment Agency