Fox Corp. is planning for big business ahead with the Fox Future Studio Lot Project at its historic Fox Studio Lot in the Century City neighborhood of Los Angeles. Fox is remaining mum on the price tag of the approximately 1.6 million-square-foot undertaking; however, the project will reportedly mark a $1.5 billion investment in the entertainment industry and Century City business.
Fox Future will modernize and expand the Fox Studio Lot while paying homage to the 50-acre property’s historic facilities. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fox had hinted at plans to capitalize on the property’s potential. “Recently acquired businesses, coupled with the renowned production capabilities in real estate of the Fox Studio lot and our tax asset, collectively represents significant pools of below-the-line value, hiding in plain sight at Fox Corp.,” Steven Tomsic, CFO of Fox Corp., said during the company’s fourth quarter FY 2020 earnings call on August 4, 2020.
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The Fox Studio Lot made its debut in 1928, nearly 30 years before Century City materialized around it, and today it encompasses nearly 2 million square feet of administration, production and post-production space. As part of the Fox Future project, the media giant will increase its stages from 15 to 24 with the development of 13 state-of-the-art sound stages that will serve as replacements for four older facilities. Construction activity will also produce new pre- and post-production space and defined production basecamp spaces.
The massive expansion endeavor will yield much more than the infrastructure for productions. Plans for Fox Future also include the addition of a new 24-story media office tower. And, potentially in conjunction with a development partner, the company will pursue the construction of a headquartering and general office destination with 35 floors of office space above a seven-level parking podium. Despite a generally frosty office market, demand exists for such a building, particularly one with an address along Avenue of the Stars.
Although the Greater Los Angeles area office market continues to struggle amid the post-pandemic haze, certain pockets are faring well, and Century City is one of them. Metropolitan Los Angeles recorded an overall vacancy rate of 19.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to a report by CBRE, while Century City saw an overall vacancy rate of just 8.5 percent, one of the lowest of the dozen-plus submarkets in West Los Angeles. The forecast for Century City’s office market is sunny.
“Occupiers will have a plethora of options in the leasing market but will most likely move towards opportunities that are in prime locations, offer high levels of amenities, and in many cases, locations that offer security and safety. Markets such as Century City that can offer the above characteristics will continue to outperform other cities in Los Angeles,” according to the CBRE report. The Fox Studio Lot already leases a segment of its office offerings to third parties.
Fox Future’s new office additions will be highly sustainable, with both projects designed to meet LEED Platinum certification. Fox Future will also integrate a $20 million transportation improvement plan covering various points in West Los Angeles to render the Fox Lot a true transit-oriented development.
The Fox Studio Lot is a major component of the history of film in the U.S., and the Fox Future project will ensure that the past maintains a footprint in the future. Updating its Historic Preservation Plan, Fox will relocate four historically significant structures to new locations on the lot and it will preserve the renowned Fox Lot Commissary, 1935 Will Rogers mural and all.
Fox Future is in the earliest of development stages, with Fox having just filed an application for the project with the city of Los Angeles this month. The next step for the development entails the issuing of a notice of preparation. Fox Future will help reinforce Los Angeles’ status as the nation’s film and media capital, but “Hollywood” is no longer a West Coast concept; production studios are popping up across the country.
In mid-2022, Great Point Studios and The New Jersey Performing Arts Center announced a partnership with Lionsgate for the development of a 300,000-square-foot TV and film production facility in Newark, N.J. Worldwide Stages LLC opened a 320,000-square music, film and broadcast production complex outside Nashville in Spring Hill, Tenn., in January 2023, having repurposed the former headquarters of General Motors’ Saturn. And most recently, in early March 2023 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the city of Mansfield, Texas, and the Mansfield Economic Development Corp. joined forces with Super Studios Mansfield LLC for the development of a 70-acre, mixed-use development that will initially encompass a 405,000-square-foot studio complex. And the list goes on.