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Lights, Hammer, Action! Burbank Office Project to Go Up Near Studios

Development: Work on the 585,000-square-foot Media Center starts today. The site, in an area where vacancy rate is low, is close to NBC, Warner, Disney.

January 28, 1998|MELINDA FULMER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

With virtually no office space available in the buildings near major studios in Burbank, developer Jerry Snyder and Equity Office Properties Trust of Chicago have begun construction of the 585,000-square-foot Burbank Media Center.

The six-story Mediterranean-themed project, announced by J.H. Snyder Co. of Los Angeles last year, is the first office building not behind studio walls to be built in the Media District in nearly a decade.

Work is scheduled to start today on the 4-acre site bordered by Olive Avenue, California Avenue and the Ventura Freeway. It is close to the NBC, Walt Disney and Warner Bros. studios.

No office tenants have yet been signed for the Mexican-tiled building with terraces, courtyards and a large landscaped atrium. However, Snyder has leased space for a fitness club.

Snyder and Equity decided to start construction after watching the vacancy rate in Burbank's top-quality buildings dwindle to 2%.

"Our experience in the marketplace is that if we break ground, we start signing leases. Nobody believes you until you break ground and they know 'X' months from now they can move in," Snyder said. Burbank Media Center is scheduled to be ready for occupancy at the end of 1999.

Brokers say it could take longer than that to fully lease the building to such likely tenants as post-production houses and other entertainment-related service firms.

With continually shifting programming needs, entertainment companies usually demand space they can move into fairly quickly, said Jim Lindvall, a vice president with Grubb & Ellis Co. in the San Fernando Valley.

And with asking rents of $34 to $36 per square foot per year, Snyder is charging considerably more than existing buildings in Burbank and the surrounding markets. Competing offices are commanding rates of $28 to $32, he said.

Two other new office projects planned near Burbank airport will likely vie with Burbank Media Center for entertainment tenants, including a business park to be constructed by Kilroy Realty Corp. and its partner Koll Real Estate Group, and an office complex being built by M. David Paul.

Although these buildings may open before Snyder's project, they should not significantly hurt its prospects, Lindvall said, noting Media Center's location near major studios.

"[Snyder] can offer what nobody else can offer. They are at ground zero for entertainment uses," Lindvall said.

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