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Blackstone Brings Its Studio Venture To The UK With £700M Investment

A rendering of the new UK studio being developed by Hudson Pacific Properties and Blackstone.

A joint venture between Blackstone and U.S. REIT Hudson Pacific Properties have bought a site north of London to develop a new TV, film and digital studio.

The Sunset Studios venture paid £120M for a 91-acre site in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, 17 miles north of London. It is seeking planning permission for a new studio facility it said would create 4,500 new jobs and generate a total investment of £700M.

JLL said last month the pressure for new studio floorspace in and around London is growing because existing studios are seriously oversubscribed. Today the capital's 3.4M SF of permanent stage space is reported to be 95% to 100% occupied for the next 12 months. That is leading to new development like that being undertaken by Sunset and conversion of existing assets into studio space.

Sunset Studios is a 51/49 joint venture between Hudson Pacific and Blackstone that was set up in June last year. 

It comprises a 3.5M SF collection of Los Angeles and U.S. studio facilities and office buildings valued at more than $2B. The joint venture was agreed between Hudson Pacific and Blackstone Property Partners, the investor’s core-plus vehicle. The deal announced today is its first scheme outside of the U.S. 

Blackstone entered the film studio property sector because the growth of digital streaming services has drastically increased the need for new content creation. Big companies like Netflix and Disney are also increasingly willing to take space on long leases rather than on an ad hoc basis. 

“Our business comes down to identifying themes we believe in, and then finding ways to invest in those themes,” Blackstone Head of Real Estate in the Americas Nadeem Meghji told Bisnow in an interview last August. “Content creation is a megatrend, and there has been explosive growth in both the demand for content and the spend among traditional media companies and the big film studios.

“Leases are getting longer, which is absolutely the trend we are seeing,” Meghji said. “There are a limited number of these soundstages and that makes them increasingly valuable.”