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Culver City OKs Refurbishing Plan for Studio

November 20, 1986|JEFF BURBANK | Times Staff Writer

The Culver City Redevelopment Agency on Monday approved a draft redevelopment plan for Laird International Studios that requires any new owner of the facility to repair buildings, improve landscaping and provide additional off-street parking.

A bankruptcy trustee for the studio's owner, Culver City-based Kings Point Corp., announced last month that the studio would be put up for auction Dec. 15 in West Los Angeles. The design plan is intended to set standards for improvements in the historic studio once it is sold.

Mayor Paul A. Netzel, who is on the agency's board, said the plan was drawn up to make sure potential buyers know how the city and the agency want the 68-year-old studio to be upgraded. The design will be submitted to the redevelopment agency Dec. 1 for final approval.

Laird International, a 14-acre independent production facility with 12 sound stages, is in a redevelopment district in downtown Culver City. Started in 1918 by silent film director Thomas Ince, it served as the site of such movie classics as "King Kong," "Gone With the Wind" and "Citizen Kane."

The studio has been owned since 1977 by Kings Point, an investment company that filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code in 1982. Kings Point wants to sell the studio to help pay off its creditors. More than a dozen production companies have expressed interest in buying the studio.

Curtis Danning, bankruptcy trustee for Kings Point, said interested companies include the Los Angeles-based Alsten Holding and Tristar Pictures, along with Raleigh Film and Motion Picture Studios, Warner Studios and Sunset Gower Studios, all in Hollywood. Marvin Davis, former owner of 20th Century Fox Studios in Century City, is also a potential buyer, Danning said.

The development plan will have no effect on the sale of the studio, which Kings Point hopes to sell for at least $20 million, Danning said. Prospective buyers are aware that whoever purchases Laird will probably need to invest up to $6 million more on structural and other improvements, he said.

In the draft plan, the agency suggested that new owners of the studio repair leaky roofs, replace faulty wiring, modernize security services, improve ventilation and heating and perform structural and pest inspections.

The agency also recommended moving or demolishing seven small buildings on the lot to make way for more parking, and rehabilitating seven other old buildings. The studio now has about 450 parking spaces, but the agency has said the studio needs to provide up to 700 spaces.

New owners would also have to replace a five-block sidewalk on Ince Boulevard on the studio's northern border and place trees in large planters along the street. The plan would prohibit construction of any new buildings higher than the structure that houses two 45-foot sound stages, which is the tallest building on the lot.

Jack Kindberg, manager of Laird International, has submitted corrections for the draft plan that include the improvements that Kings Point already has made on the studio, said Linda Hunt, a Laird spokesman.

The agency staff told Kings Point last May that it would require the company to make the improvements if the company decided to sell the studio. Kindberg told agency officials at the time that the studio had already spent $5 million on improvements and had completed 80% of those suggested by the agency.

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