What’s interesting about the latest proposed Universal City expansion is that this was a dream of both Lew Wasserman and Edgar Bronfman Jr. when they ran the studio. But the blueprints eventually turned into a nightmare for both moguls. The problem over the years was that the duo’s successive expansion plans to make Universal more of a tourist mecca were all about the studio and never about the community surrounding it — so the residents fought the projects, and the politicians fled from them. As it stands, Universal can’t even add a new building or ride without both Los Angeles city and county approval, which sucks big-time. So that’s why this latest $3 billion “Vision Plan” is more all-encompassing than anything proposed before, complete with a lot of giveaways (and also trade-offs) to benefit the surrounding community — residential housing, an MTA station, a new 4-lane public road cutting through the property that the studio will build, and 10,000+ new jobs. But it’s also going to take 2-to-3 years just to get approval (since its backer, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, wants to get the credit for it), and then another 25 years to complete. Which basically means the current NBC Universal execs will have to be wheeled out of the Motion Picture Home to see the completed project.
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