After a couple years of quiet, a plan to redevelop a former Sears in Hollywood with a new studio complex is once again taking steps forward.

Santa Monica Boulevard elevation of Echelon StudiosBob Hale / Rios

On May 4, the L.A. Department of City Planning published an initial study for the Echelon Studios complex, which would rise from a full city block located at 5601 W. Santa Monica Boulevard. The project, a joint venture between Bain Capital Real Estate and Bardas Investment Group, would include:

  • 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.

Those figures represent a reduction in the amount of proposed office space, which stood at roughly 426,000 square feet when the project was submitted to the Planning Department in 2021. However, the reduction of offices also means less parking - original plans had called for three subterranean levels with more than 1,100 vehicle stalls.

Plans included with the initial study retain the same design scheme first revealed by Rios in 2021. New offices would frame the site along the east and west sides of the property, rising up to 93 feet in height, with soundstages and production areas located between. 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

"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 working on the project.

Pending city approvals, included a zone change, 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 Virginia Avenue looking southBob Hale / Rios

Soaring demand for content from streaming services has increased demand for studio space in Los Angeles to an all-time high, with long waiting lists for soundstage space. Besides Bain and Bardas, developers including Hackman Capital Partners, Kilroy Realty, and Hudson Pacific Properties have also invested in new ground-up projects in the region.

The Echelon property was previously owned by Mid-Wilshire based developer 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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