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DreamWorks Buys Playa Vista Property

Firm pays $20 million for the 47-acre site. Construction of its studio should begin next year.

April 20, 1999|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DreamWorks SKG as expected announced on Monday that it has bought 47 acres at Playa Vista for its new studio, clearing the way for construction to finally start on the project in the first quarter of next year.

The sale of the property near Marina del Rey for $20 million--$13 million in cash and a $7-million note--comes more than three years after DreamWorks first disclosed in December 1995 that it planned to locate its headquarters there. The project will be the first major Hollywood studio to be built in 60 years, and it will be on the industrial site where Howard Hughes built his "Spruce Goose" airplane earlier in the century.

The deal ran into numerous problems along the way, such as infighting among its major players and financing troubles.

The DreamWorks studio lot, which the company hopes to occupy by 2001, is the highest-profile part of the overall 1,087-acre project, which has drawn strong protests from some community and environmental groups.

DreamWorks is buying the property through Studio Land, a limited-liability corporation whose partners include the three DreamWorks principals--director Steven Spielberg, executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and entertainment mogul David Geffen--as well as major DreamWorks investor Paul Allen.

In a statement, Katzenberg said: "We've been looking forward to this day for a very long time and are anxious to begin construction of our new campus." DreamWorks now must secure financing to build the studio and develop final plans for the site.

Key to the project was welcoming developer Robert Maguire--who had feuded with DreamWorks and was shoved aside by Playa Vista's partners--back into the mix after Maguire threatened legal action that could further delay the project.

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