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CALIFORNIA | HEARD ON THE BEAT / REAL ESTATE

Staging a Comeback : Entertainment Firms Help Fill Developer's Office Buildings

December 10, 1996|JESUS SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Many people are drawn to Hollywood in search of stardom. Jerome H. Snyder came to find tenants.

After suffering some painful setbacks during the recessionary 1990s, the 66-year-old Los Angeles real estate developer is staging a comeback in part by filling his buildings with fast-growing entertainment companies. "The entertainment business has been our savior," Snyder said.

Tonight, the Burbank City Council is scheduled to vote on a proposal by Snyder and his partners at J.H. Snyder Co. to build a 585,000-square-foot office complex in the city's Media District, where entertainment firms have taken up most of the available commercial space. If approved, and if Snyder breaks ground as planned next summer, the project will be one of the few major office buildings to be constructed in the Los Angeles area in recent years.

"With the markets being so tight, I would think that it has every chance of being a winner," said Los Angeles real estate broker Stanley V. Michota Jr.

Plans for Complex

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The proposed complex, which would be sandwiched between NBC Studios and the 134 Freeway, will build on the experience Snyder gained attracting a flock of entertainment-related firms from higher-priced locations to a once sleepy stretch of Wilshire Boulevard near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. For example, Snyder's company and the main offices of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are located in a former insurance high-rise on Wilshire.

Across the street, Spelling Entertainment, Mark Goodson Production, Motown and the entertainment industry newspaper Variety are housed in the Wilshire Courtyard, a sprawling complex Snyder built in the late 1980s. Down the block, Entertainment Television has taken over a large chunk of another Snyder property, a former savings and loan building, and converted offices into full production studios.

It was critical to bring in a well known entertainment company to draw other companies to the site, said Clifford P. Goldstein, who is Snyder's chief deal maker. "We were going to do what it ever it took to bring in a [major] entertainment tenant."

Entertainment tenants now occupy more than 500,000 square feet of space at the Snyder buildings on Wilshire and are growing rapidly. Entertainment Television, whose yellow and orange "E!" logo near the top of the building is visible for miles, will need an additional 100,000 square feet in the next few years, Snyder said.

Snyder will apply some of the lessons learned from his Wilshire properties to the proposed Burbank project. First, the design for the six-story complex features the low-rise, lushly landscaped setting favored by most entertainment clients.

The Burbank project and continued expansion of Snyder's existing entertainment tenants comes after some painful years that saw some of the venerable developer's most prominent projects fall victim to the recession. For example, Snyder had to sell off much of his stake in the massive Water Garden office complex in Santa Monica to complete the first phase of the project. Land for the second phase was foreclosed upon, but Snyder managed to buy it back in 1994 with the help of partners, only to see the market remain dormant.

Now Snyder stands to benefit from rising office occupancy rates and growing investor and lender interest in Southern California real estate after a long slump.

"It's like this nightmare didn't happen," he said.

Real Estate Recovery

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In a sign of the state's continued real estate recovery, the average price discount and time it took to sell a California home this year were at their lowest levels since 1990, according to the annual California Housing Finance Survey. The typical existing home spent eight weeks on the market in 1996 before being sold, compared with 11.5 weeks last year, according to the report, which was based on surveys of real estate agents by the California Assn. of Realtors.

Jesus Sanchez can be reached via e-mail at jesus.sanchez@latimes.com or by fax at (213) 237-7837.

Wednesday: International Trade

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