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Firm buys former Columbia lot for $200 million

June 30, 2007|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

One of Hollywood's most famous film lots, the former Columbia Pictures headquarters, is being acquired by a fledgling Los Angeles investment firm for more than $200 million, a real estate broker involved in the deal said Friday.

The lot, now known as Sunset-Gower Studios, is in escrow to Hudson Capital, said broker Kevin Shannon of CB Richard Ellis. Hudson Capital was founded by Victor Coleman, former president of Arden Realty Inc., a Los Angeles office landlord.

Arden was sold last year to General Electric Co. for $3.2 billion, and Coleman has been looking for other real estate investments.

"Since he left Arden this is his first big splash," said Shannon, who represented seller GI Partners, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based private equity firm. "For him it's a nice deal."

Coleman could not be reached for comment, and Andrew Tainiter, a partner at GI, declined to comment. GI bought the property in late 2004 for a reported $110 million from Pick-Vanoff Co.

The lot has one of the richest histories in the entertainment industry, dating to a tiny studio that movie tycoon Harry Cohn bought in 1920 on Sunset Boulevard between Gower Street and Beachwood Drive.

After it became home to Columbia Pictures in 1924, some of Columbia's most noteworthy films were shot there, including "It Happened One Night," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "From Here to Eternity" and "Funny Girl." Some celebrated television shows were also made on the lot, including the 1960s hits "I Dream of Jeannie" and "Bewitched."

Movies and TV programs are still filmed on the 13 soundstages. Construction is nearly complete on a six-story office tower on the lot that will be leased by Technicolor Inc.

It's difficult to find the land and get government approvals to build new studios in the Los Angeles area and existing properties are increasing in value, Shannon said.

This month Manhattan Beach Studios was sold to a Washington investment company for $150 million. Its value appreciated $50 million in less than three years.

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