Bardas Investment Group and Bain Capital Real Estate are one step closer to building new soundstages and studio offices at the former site of a Sears in Hollywood.

Santa Monica Boulevard elevation of Echelon StudiosBob Hale / Rios

At its meeting on August 10, the Los Angeles City Planning commission voted to support the construction of Echelon Studios at 5601 W. Santa Monica Boulevard. The proposed project, announced in May 2021, would feature:

  • approximately 110,000 square feet of production studios and support space;
  • more than 388,000 square feet of offices;
  • over 12,300 square feet of ground-floor restaurant space; and
  • parking for 981 vehicles in two subterranean levels.

Rios is designing the mixed-use project, which front Santa Monica Boulevard with a series of interconnected office buildings and soundstages, rising up to 93 feet in height. Plans call for exterior finishes included textured plaster cement board siding, perforated metal screens, and glass.

View of Echelon Studios from Santa Monica Boulevard and Wilton Place looking northeastBob Hale / Rios

At the rear of the property, facing Virginia Avenue to the north, the complex would have a lower-scaled appearance, taking the form of a collection of detached office bungalows, interspersed with private balconies and common terrace decks.

"To the north smaller villa-like forms create an intimate scale that responds to the residential context along Virginia and give Echelon Studios its unique character," reads a project description from the Rios website. Circulation protects the site via distinct controlled public and private access points, while secret gardens and courtyards also allow for surprises within the complex. Echelon Studios also features ground level retail that engages the public along the street."

City records also indicate that House & Robertson is part of the project design team.

View of Echelon Studios from Virginia Avenue looking southBob Hale / Rios

While the City Planning Commission approval represents a key milestone for the project, it is not the final approval. Due to a requested zone change, the project is also subject to the approval of the Los Angeles City Council. Should that happen, construction of Echelon Studios at 5601 Santa Monica is expected to occur over an approximately 25-month period.

The complex could be completed by 2026, according to a landing page on the Bardas website.

The joint venture between Bain Capital and Bardas, formed in 2019, is expected to build more than 1 million square feet of new studio developments. That total includes the footprint of 5601 Santa Monica, as well as a $600-million project announced last year which would bring new offices and soundstages to the Television Center complex in Hollywood.

View of Echelon Studios from Santa Monica Boulevard looking northeastBob Hale / Rios

While the property at 5601 W. Santa Monica Boulevard has long been considered for redevelopment, a studio was not always the plan. The site was previously under the ownership of CIM Group, which had sought to develop the site with a mixed-use project consisting of 375 apartments and more than 300,000 square feet of commercial space before terminating plans in 2018.

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