Company may sell Universal land to developers
General Electric is exploring a real estate deal under which a parcel of Universal Pictures’ Lankershim lot would be sold to a condominium developer.GE has hired consultants to determine the feasibility of constructing condos and has approached developers, but no final decisions have been made. “We’re in a needs-assessment phase,” said an NBC U corporate spokesman. “Once decisions have been made we will talk to our community and employees first.” According to the L.A. Business Journal, which first reported U’s latest land maneuvers, the scenario under consideration would sell off 150 acres for about $300 million. Land being eyed for development is the hilly portion of the lot nearest Barham Boulevard. Though the majority of the acreage would be retained as open space, scenario calls for constructing about 1,000 condos and townhouses and would require significant road improvements to handle additional traffic on Barham and other nearby streets. Covering 415 acres of the San Fernando Valley, Universal operates the largest studio lot left in Los Angeles after rising real estate prices have led other studios to sell off pieces of their holdings over the years. Lew Wasserman assembled U’s lot in 1958, and the real estate now comprises Universal’s corporate HQ, production bungalows and the Universal Studios theme park, as well as production facilities including 20 permanent shooting locations and 30 soundstages. As the value of the property grows in L.A.’s red-hot real estate marketplace, U’s previous owner Vivendi sold off other elements to weather its cash crunch. In 2003, when U was owned by Vivendi, studio sold off 10 Universal City Plaza, a 35-floor office tower outside the studio gates, for $190 million, and sold the land leased by the Universal Sheraton and Hilton hotels for another $70 million. That year, the L.A. County Assessor listed U’s Lankershim holdings as worth a total of $1.44 billion on the property tax rolls.