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Sale of Long Beach site where studio is planned now in jeopardy

March 10, 2009|Roger Vincent

Plans for a $500-million movie studio on the site of a former Boeing Co. airplane factory in Long Beach are on hold because a long-pending sale of the property fell out of escrow, Boeing said Monday.

The would-be developers said they still hoped to complete the transaction, and Boeing acknowledged that negotiations were continuing.

A group of investors led by character actor Jack O'Halloran said in September that they had secured financing to convert the site next to Long Beach Airport into an elaborate, self-contained production facility with 40 soundstages, a water tank stage, offices, commissary, bungalows, a private hotel and an indoor set of a New York street.

At that time the group was in escrow to buy the facility, a 1.1-million-square-foot behemoth created in the 1950s to build jetliners for Douglas Aircraft Co., later McDonnell Douglas, which Boeing bought.

The pending sale price was not disclosed, but local real estate experts estimated the old plant was worth $100 million.

Large commercial real estate sales have been rare for the last several months, however. Loans for purchases are hard to come by, even though property values have fallen. But the studio developers say they can still close the deal.

"We have our funding all lined up," said O'Halloran's partner, Jay Samit, adding that his group is waiting for a new appraisal to be finished.

A major motion picture is set to begin filming at the 78-acre site in about a month if the transaction can be completed, Samit said.

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roger.vincent@latimes.com

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