City Hall receives plans for ‘Placerita Studios’ project 

An artist's rendering shows the type of construction technology that Pacifica Ventures has employed with partner Spring Structures. Courtesy
An artist's rendering shows the type of construction technology that Pacifica Ventures has employed with partner Spring Structures. Courtesy

Another project intended to further the city of Santa Clarita’s reputation as “Hollywood North” — a supportive atmosphere for filming within the region’s 30-Mile Zone, or TMZ — has been submitted to City Hall, according to a records request by The Signal. 

The city of Santa Clarita’s Planning Division is reviewing plans for the Placerita Studios project, which was presented to the city by Pacifica Ventures in partnership with Sprung Structures and CRC, according to a One-Stop Review filed Nov. 29. 

The submission comes months after the Santa Clarita City Council approved a plan nearby in North Newhall/Placerita Canyon that already would put the city on pace to double the space it has for soundstages and their support facilities. 

City planners noted the review for Placerita Studios was submitted near the end of last month and is still in the preliminary stages. 

“The city has received a ‘One-Stop’ conceptual plan for a Placerita Studios project on the east end of Placerita Canyon, and is in the very early stages of review,” according to Patrick Leclair, Santa Clarita’s planning manager. “Once the city’s review is completed, the applicant will have the city’s requirements along with any potential revisions they will need to make to comply with the city’s codes, should they choose to proceed with an application for a formal project in the future.” 

A One-Stop Review is “a preliminary design review of a plan concept,” according to city officials who also described it as an informational process only and does not lead to any approvals.    

A representative of Pacifica Ventures declined to speak about the proposal at this time as the applicants are still discussing the project’s specifications with city officials. 

“The soundstages will be made available to the major studios and streaming companies to produce their feature film and television content,” according to an application submitted last month. “This means that major studio productions will be expanding their presence in Santa Clarita supporting the already significant positive impact on the city’s economy. The adjacent Disney Ranch will also be a major support factor for the facility.” 

The project site for Placerita Studios is a 38.2-acre lot bordered by Placerita Canyon Road to the south and Placeritos Boulevard to the west, just west of the nearby Highway 14 freeway exit. 

The proposal calls for a little over 10 acres of actual development, with six buildings to house eight soundstages, as well as supporting office space. 

“There are only 16 full-time employees at the facility and during filming porta potties will be provided, so in short, low sewage use,” the development plan notes.  

“A new trailhead will be provided,” according to the proposal. “There are a total of 70 non-heritage oak trees. Forty-three oaks are to be removed, nine oaks to be impacted, one oak already dead, and 17 oaks to remain. There are a total of 13 heritage oaks. One oak to remain, five to be impacted and seven to be removed.” 

The proposal also mentions there will be a dedication of open space and a “robust migration plan” for the trees. 

The plans represent another success for the city in terms of its business-attraction strategy. Jason Crawford, the city’s director of development, has said previously the film industry is a target growth area due to its ability to generate local revenue and create high-paying jobs. 

With this application for a project review, Santa Clarita planners will have seen proposals for 28 new soundstages in a 12-month period. 

The city’s Film Office confirmed Friday there are currently 57 permitted soundstages in five facilities that cover a little over 1.1 million square feet of space, not including the recently approved or proposed soundstages. 

Shadowbox has submitted plans for 22 more in 2023, including a smaller, six-stage location that’s part of a partnership with a local homebuilder at the former Saugus Speedway site. 

Jeff Weber, principal for Shadowbox Studios, said the 93-acre, 16-soundstage facility — which includes 1.28 million-square-feet of construction the city approved over the summer — is expected to begin work next year on an 18- to 24-month timeline. The pace of the second project, he said, which is still in the review phase, will be dictated by the studio’s partner, Integral. 

The pitch from both Weber and representatives for Pacifica included that the demand for such studio space, due to the proliferation of streaming services, exceeds the amount of production space currently available.     

Pacifica also mentions cost-efficient facilities the studio has been able to construct with its partner, Sprung Structures, which are able to be built within a six-month timeline in some scenarios, but proposed to last longer than traditional structures, per the applicant’s promotional materials. 

One local soundstage expert noted Friday evening the SCV demand for production space is still seeing impacts from the monthslong strikes that involved much of the industry. 

“It’s great that there’s going to be more soundstages,” said Michael DeLorenzo, co-founder of Santa Clarita Studios, which is created as being the first and largest local facility, operating 33 soundstages within the city’s limits.  

“I just think for today and for the foreseeable near future there’s more supply than demand,” he said, adding many of the major content streamers are still figuring out their post-strike production plans. 

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