After several months of site preparation, Hackman Capital Partners has officially started construction for its expansion of the historic Culver Studios.

Known for its picturesque mansion and bungalows at 9336 Washington Boulevard, the Culver Studios originated a century ago, when it was founded by the legendary filmmaker Thomas Ince.  In the ensuing 100 years, the 14-acre campus has been the site of countless productions, including Gone with the Wind, Batman, and the Andy Griffith Show.  

Hackman Capital, which is headquartered in West Los Angeles, purchased the historic studio lot in 2014 for a reported price of $85 million.  Not long afterward, it initiated entitlements with Culver City for an expansion that would add 413,000 square feet of rentable space to the property in a collection of low-rise buildings, increasing the total space at the campus to more than 720,000 square feet.

The Gensler-designed project will also include parking for more than 1,930 vehicles in two structures.

Though the new buildings are not expected to open until early 2021, the campus already has lined up a signature tenant.  Last year, Amazon announced that it would relocate its Los Angeles operations - including Amazon Studios, IMDb, Amazon Video, and World Wide Advertising - to 288,000 square feet at the Culver Studios.  Yesterday's groundbreaking ceremony came with an announcement that Amazon has leased two additional buildings at the property, increasing its total footprint to 530,000 square feet.  Approximately 100 Amazon Studios employees are already working the Culver Studios in its mansion and bungalows.  The tech giant has also inked a lease for the entirety of the office space at the adjacent Culver Steps development, another project by Hackman Capital.

"We're thrilled with Amazon Studios' commitment to The Culver Studios as its anchor tenant, " said Michael Hackman, CEO of The Culver Studios and Hackman Capital Partners.  "It's the ultimate validation of all the hard work our company and [Culver] City have put into the campus' redesign."

The project is considered the second phase of the modernization of The Culver Studios.  The initial component of the project, which finished construction earlier this year, included the restoration of the historic mansion, and the relocation of the bungalows from a distant corner of the lot to a more prominent location behind the mansion.

The Culver Studios expansion is more evidence of Culver City's increasing appeal as a lower-cost alternative to Venice and Santa Monica, two of the longstanding tech hubs in Southern California.  Besides Amazon, Apple recently leased the entirety of a 128,000-square-foot office building now under construction next to the Expo Line.  HBO is also rumored to be taking space near Downtown Culver City.