Conglom adds $100 mil in transit improvements
NBC Universal is banking on the addition of $100 million in transportation and housing funds to help Universal City’s neighbors warm up to the conglom’s $3 billion plan to upgrade its lot over the next two decades.Initially introduced in late 2006, NBC U’s Vision Plan, now dubbed the “Evolution Plan,” still aims to revamp the 391-acre property with new production and post-production facilities, an additional 500-room hotel at CityWalk, and the expansion of the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park for new attractions. But after the initial plan drew opposition from homeowners, the new version now also includes a $100 million transit package designed to improve roads and freeways in the area. Proposal is considered the largest private sector investment in transportation in the San Fernando Valley in the last 25 years. It also calls for the construction of additional housing next to a transit station “where we can promote a new way to live, work and travel in Los Angeles,” NBC U said. The development would include 2,900 residential units and 35 acres of open space for parks. A new administration building and a child-care center for staffers that is 50% larger than the current structure are also part of the new plan. All projects are designed to be environmentally friendly. NBC U said it had met with 60 community, homeowner and business orgs and neighborhood councils; distribbed more than 300,000 copies of informational materials; and conducted door-to-door visits with more than 9,500 locals to pitch its plan. “We must look ahead and plan for our future in a way that strengthens Universal Studios’ role as the world’s largest working studio, secures quality entertainment jobs and ensures that Los Angeles remains the hub of both motion picture and television production,” said Ron Meyer, prexy and chief operating officer of Universal Studios. Project should create 31,000 jobs during the construction period and 12,000 new full- and part-time jobs. Once completed, it should generate $26 million in new annual revenues for the city and county of Los Angeles, NBC U said. Locals have objected to the plan in the past, believing the expansion of the studio would disrupt the lives of those who reside around the property that’s home to Universal Studios, NBC, the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park and Universal CityWalk and create even more congestion in the area. Proposal must still undergo an environmental public review and hearing process. An environmental impact report will be released by the city of L.A. this winter.