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VALLEY FOCUS | Canoga Park

Quake Loan OKd for Ray-Art Studios

January 14, 1998|SYLVIA L. OLIANDE

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a low-interest earthquake loan to Ray-Art Studios to repair and retrofit buildings that were damaged in the Northridge quake.

Papazian-Hirsch Studios, LLC, operators of Ray-Art Studios, bought the property, formerly a shampoo factory, after the quake. The company is expected to receive a loan of up to $695,000 to retrofit the production facility to prevent damage in future quakes.

The earthquake construction, to be complete by this summer, is expected to be followed by a major expansion of the facility, which is now leased to television and film production companies.

Studio officials said an expansion would include four new sound stages, as well as 50,000 to 60,000 square feet of office space, bringing the total to eight stages and nearly 120,000 square feet of office space.

Plans for the expansion grew out of a need for more production space in Los Angeles, said studio officials, adding that the Variel Avenue facility is fully leased.

"[Papazian-Hirsch] is in the television production business, so their own production would be done there and other studios would be interested in leasing space," said Roger Howard, an attorney for the owners.

As a condition of the loan, the company had to prove that the repairs would result in the creation of jobs.

Officials said the first phase of the project will create an estimated 140 jobs, and a subsequent expansion would create an additional 220 or more, primarily highly paid technical jobs but also in clerical, catering and technical support.

Since its opening last year, Ray-Art studio space has been home to the production companies of the controversial television drama "Nothing Sacred," and the now-canceled Fox show "413 Hope Street."

The funds will be provided through the city's Revolving Loan Fund/Financial Restructuring Assistance Program, which had $30 million set aside to help businesses affected by the earthquake but that did not qualify for a Small Business Administration loan.

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