NBCUniversal is moving forward with its 20-year real estate revamp of Universal City without an originally proposed residential segment that would have added almost 3000 units and associated retail spots on what is now Universal’s backlot. The no-residential alternative was encouraged by LA City Councilman Tom LaBonge and LA County Board Of Supervisors chairman Zev Yaroslavsky, who raised red flags over potential environmental impacts and potential production jobs lost after an extensive review of the original plan. Now the backlot will be kept for production use according to Universal president and COO Ron Meyer, and the plan moves forward with public hearings soon. Here’s Meyer’s statement:
Los Angeles has been the home of Universal for nearly 100 years and The Evolution Plan is our commitment to our community, to our neighbors and to our businesses. We have gathered feedback from thousands of members of our community, including our elected officials. And, after taking a hard look at the project, the current real estate market, our business needs and the needs of our surrounding communities, we believe it’s best to ask the City and County to focus on our 20-year plan without any residential development and to retain our backlot for production.
This is the right time in the process to make this decision and it will enable us to concentrate and invest in our core businesses — television and film production, Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park and CityWalk. Planning for our future in a way that is responsive to the community has always been a priority of the Evolution Plan. Today marks the next step in making this important project a reality.
NBCUniversal’s Evolution Plan was unveiled in December 2006 for its 391-acre property located in both LA and unincorporated LA County. It would provide upgrades and improvements to production and postproduction facilities, additional new-media-related office space, enhancements to the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park and CityWalk, and the residential neighborhood. It has been in the environmental review process since then, until the final Environmental Impact Report was released last wek. It now will be re-submitted without a residential plan as the “environmentally superior” alternative (see map above; click on photo to enlarge). The plan includes major transportation improvements designed to mitigate the residential additions among other concerns, including a new southbound on-ramp to the 101 Freeway at Universal Studios Boulevard, upgrades throughout the Cahuenga Pass portion of the 101 through Universal City between Studio City and Hollywood — part of improvements at more the 120 intersections around the property.