The Los Angeles Conservancy submitted an application Monday for historic-cultural monument status for CBS’s Television City, which is being shopped around the market.
“A historic property is often at risk when it changes out of long-time stewardship,” says Adrian Scott Fine, the conversancy’s director of advocacy.
Television City played a huge role in television history as “the first large-scale, all-new facility in the nation designed to meet the mass-production of television programming.” One of the studios was where Elvis Presley’s first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was filmed; the studios figured prominently in the careers of comedians Jack Benny and Carol Burnett, according to the conservancy.
It’s also a stellar example of the International Style in Los Angeles as well as a master work by midcentury modern architecture firm Pereira and Luckman. The team included the late architect Gin Wong as project coordinator. Its exterior remains “largely intact,” says the conservancy.
In September, The Real Deal reported that CBS was planning to put the 25-acre property up for sale. Located at Beverly and Fairfax, the studio complex is home now to shows like The Price Is Right and The Late Late Show with James Corden.
At the time, at least two big-time developers were reportedly interested in the property, which is close to The Grove and the original Farmers Market. Experts weighed in that it could fetch anywhere from $500 million to $900 million.
Any developer who paid that much would need to increase the the amount of building space on the site, likely by 200 percent, a Sunday op-ed by former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky argued. “Los Angeles should not let developers turn the historic studio complex into a mini Century City,” Yaroslavsky wrote.
Television City wouldn’t be the first former CBS facility that had been transformed for new uses. CBS’s old headquarters in Hollywood were reborn last year as Kilroy Realty’s Columbia Square, a mixed-use development that holds office space, the Hollywood Proper extended-stay residences, and a NeueHouse coworking space.
Scott Fine says if Television City were awarded landmark designation, “any potential redevelopment and adaptive reuse of the campus in the future” would have to be vetted by the city’s historic resources office.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the percentage by which Zev Yaroslavsky estimated the buildings would need to be expanded. It is 200 percent, not 20 percent.