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Tower Burbank purchase boosts landlord's dominance in media district

March 20, 2014|Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
  • Burbank Tower on West Alameda Ave., Tuesday, March 18, 2014. (Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times).
Burbank Tower on West Alameda Ave., Tuesday, March 18,… (Ricardo DeAratanha…)

Office landlord Jeff Worthe is towering over the Burbank Media District these days.

That's the busy entertainment hub along the Ventura Freeway with hundreds of media firms surrounded by Universal, Warner Bros. and Disney studios.

Worthe's real estate firm in Santa Monica already owns or manages more than half the office space for rent around the media district, and now he's purchased Tower Burbank, the tallest building in Burbank at 32 stories. He figures he controls more than 70% of office space there.

"Burbank really is the media capital of the world when you consider few cities in the U.S. have even one major studio," Worthe told the Los Angeles Times. "That draws a lot of people to that market who want to be in and around those big studios."

A landlord in Burbank since 1984 with partner M. David Paul, Worthe Real Estate Group has built nine office buildings totaling more than 2.2 million square feet and bought five more buildings plus the former NBC Studios. About three-fourths of its tenants are in the entertainment business.

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Worthe Real Estate Group bought Tower Burbank for $109 million this week. Built in 1989 on West Alameda Avenue, it has a prominent position near the 134 Freeway next to another high-rise owned by Worthe Real Estate that is occupied by the Disney Channel.

Other Walt Disney Co. employees were moved from Tower Burbank a year ago to Glendale, leaving the 480,000-square-foot building vacant. Owner BlackRock Inc., which paid $167 million for the property in 2005, put the tower up for sale empty in case a potential buyer wanted to convert it to apartments or condominiums.

Tower Burbank will get upgrades but will remain an office building, Worthe said. Though residential properties are in high demand in much of Southern California, the tower's viability as an apartment complex is uncertain and Worthe will stick with his company's specialty.

"High-rise residential isn't that prevalent in the valley, so it's tough to know how high rents could be," Worthe said. "We know it will work as office space."

It will work better with some upgrades targeted to appeal to people in the entertainment industry, he hopes. High on the list will be the addition of a health club open only to tenants of the building and a new cafe.

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