Twentieth Century Fox expects its long-planned, much-revised $ 200 million Century City expansion plan to be greenlighted by City Council today.
“I’d be shocked if it didn’t pass,” said David Handelman, Fox’s senior VP external and legal affairs. “The issue is whether there will be further restrictions. I do not expect it to be defeated. Knock on wood.”
Fox needs eight of 15 City Council members to vote thumbs up.
Since the spring of 1990, the 771,000-square-foot expansion plan has been revised dozens of times based on recommendations by environmental and traffic impact experts, opposition groups and neighborhood activists.
Today the council will vote on the most recent version of the plan proposed by City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky — who reps the Westside neighborhood — and accepted by Fox. The plan passed the council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee a week ago (Daily Variety, June 17).
In short, the plan calls for the expansion to be phased in during three carefully monitored stages. The third phase is conditional and would only be allowed after more public hearings and assessment reports down the line.
At today’s hearing, Fox is “asking for a zoning change, a specific plan amendment, approval of the development agreement with the city and the mitigation monitoring program that sets forth all of the conditions and restrictions,” Handelman said. There are some 500 conditions. However, the council only votes once.
“They’ll do the whole enchilada in one vote for all items. We’re hopeful,” said Handelman. “This is the most regulated development project in the history of the city of Los Angeles and is certainly going to be the most regulated studio in the entertainment industry.”
Even City Councilman Nate Holden, who abstained from voting at last week’s PLUM hearing, said, “I think it will pass with the amendments.”
The once-strident opposition groups have all but disappeared. Only the Concerned Condo Owners in Century City were visible at the PLUM hearing, and rep Rhoda Semo said neighbors still haven’t seen a final draft of the plan.
“Fox and the city are still negotiating. They’re going to try to (pass it today), but there are still unanswered things,” Semo said.
Not true, said Yaroslavsky’s planning deputy, Ginny Kruger.
“It’s all spelled out,” Kruger said. She too expects the plan to finally get the go-ahead.
“It’s been a long time in coming but we think all the concerns have been adequately addressed, the traffic mitigated from its impacts on the adjacent community, and other restrictions have been established to ensure compatible development on the lot with its residential neighbors,” Kruger added. “It provides the certainty that Fox needs to remain in our city and produce some additional jobs.”
Fox said the expansion will consolidate their film and TV operations onto one 53-acre site and create about 1,600 new jobs.
In the event it doesn’t pass, Handelman said Fox would have to consider its options, including taking the studio elsewhere.