The Stocker Street Creative will bring a film studio to Baldwin Hills. This Black-led project will feature 50,000 square feet of sound stage studio space, community rooms, and restaurants.
By Jason Lewis
Black culture from the Los Angeles area has influenced film, television, music, and fashion worldwide, and starting in December of 2024, Black creatives will no longer have to leave Los Angeles’ Black community to create their work.
The Stocker Street Creative project will bring a state-of-the-art film and television studio to Baldwin Hills. The project, which features 50,000 feet of sound stage studio space, will transform a 5.12 acre block along Stocker Street, with Santa Rosalia Dr. on the east end and Don Felipe Dr. on the west end, into a campus for filmmakers, and there will be spaces for the community to utilize. The site is across the street from the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
This project will be placed in the heart of a community that has a strong influence on pop culture.
“When we talk about the creative economy and our impact on Hollywood, there are so many people within our area,” said Stan Washington, president and CEO of Pantheon Business Consulting LLC and Developer and Project Executive of the Stocker Creative Project. “Baldwin Hills, View Park, Windsor Hills, Leimert Park, West Adams — this entire community all through the Crenshaw corridor — there are tons of people in our community that are in the entertainment industry. They’re behind the cameras, they’re in front of the cameras. They’re writers, directors, we have people who are artists and playwrights. It’s an extremely vibrant and robust environment where talent is alive and well. And we drive that economy. We’re a major part of it. A lot of those trends and a lot of those trendsetters come out of this particular part of town. And it fuels what happened in Hollywood.”
This project will allow Black talent to be able to stay within the Black community to create their work.
“This will provide an environment which not only allowed our creatives to be able to tell our story, but to also create an environment where they could create a real platform,” Washington said. “Instead of us having to leave our community to tell those stories, we’re really bringing people back to this neighborhood to participate in how those stories are told.
“We want this to be a home for independent creators, writers, and filmmakers — individuals who are in all aspects of the art — so that they can have a place where they can pitch and sell, and ultimately produce and make the content that they are creating. We want them to be able to utilize their talents at home, and not have to be in Santa Monica, Burbank, North Hollywood, and all of these other parts of the city where production is being made.”
There are several major projects in the Crenshaw District, and many of them have brought on concerns of gentrification. Several projects appear to be designed to attract other races to Black communities. But the majority of the financing and project development teams of this project are Black and from this area.
“The entire development team for this is either a person of color, primarily African American, and/or they are individuals who actually live here,” Washington said. “From our marketing folks to our development leads, to our architectural design firm, to our community development consultants. All of these folks are individuals who have a major connection to this community, and many of them still live in this community, as I do. That gives us a much stronger purpose and understanding of why this project is important and why we have to develop it in a certain way to meet the needs of this community.”
Washington grew up near Gage Avenue and Western Avenue before moving to View Park in the 7th grade, and he still lives in the area. Sherri Franklin, who is the project’s community development consultant, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Design Center, and she has been a part of many economic development projects in South Los Angeles over the past 30 years. Simeon Stewart, who is the project manager, is a graduate of Locke High School and USC, and he is the owner of Stewart Manhattan. Marc Brogdon, who is the marketing consultant, is a Baldwin Hills resident and he is the president of the N2U Creative Marketing Group, which handles the marketing for the Pan African Film Festival. The executive architects for the project are Earl Gales and Ryan Gales of Jenkins, Gales & Martinez, Inc. The property manager is James Daughrity, an Inglewood resident and owner of Daughrity Real Estate.
The finance team is 4S Bay Partners, LLC, which was founded by Jessica Sarowitz, managing partner. Sarowitz is Afro-Caribbean and Hispanic, and her chief investment officer, Jim Casselberry is Black. 4S Bay Partners has already committed more than $100 million for its investment in the project. This amount mainly covers land cost and cost of construction.
This site will not only be for filmmakers, but also for community members to utilize.
“We have deliberately gone to great lengths to create a campus environment which allows the community to participate,” Washington said. “That is by design. We want this to be an environment that is inclusive of the community.”
There will be rooms that community members can use to hold meetings, workshops, panel discussions, etc. There will be a rooftop area where luncheons, banquets, and social events can be held. And there will be multiple restaurants on site that have indoor and outdoor seating.
“I am tired of having to drive to Santa Monica, or Beverly Hills, or West Hollywood to do high-end dining,” Washington said. “I go to Post & Beam, and there are others that are very good in this area. I think that the District (by GS) does very well. But I see room for more.”
The project will also be a space for educational and job training programs, with possible partnerships with many organizations, including the Los Angeles Urban League.
“The Urban League has a number of training programs aimed at adults and young people,” Washington said. “Entertainment is one of those areas where they really have put a lot of emphasis. So we’re working in direct partnership with them.”
The Stocker Street Creative is so invested into giving Black people more access into the film industry that they have become the Platinum sponsor of the Pan African Film Festival, which is held annually at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
For more information, visit www.stockerstreetcreative.com.