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Lucas lands Presidio

ILM reaches agreement on new home in S.F.

HOLLYWOOD — Cue the wrecking ball: George Lucas is waiting in the wings.

Effects shop Industrial Light & Magic and other Lucas Digital operations aim to make their new home in San Francisco’s Presidio by about 2005, following Tuesday’s signing of a long-stalled agreement to raze existing buildings at the site. That’s two years later than a previous target date for building and fully occupying a 900,000-square-foot digital arts center on the parklike former Army base.

Under the newly signed pact, Lucas Digital will pay no more than $10 million to destroy a former military hospital located on 23 acres designated for the longtime Marin County company’s new digs. The agreement is attached to a land-lease document calling for Lucas to pay $5 million annually to the Presidio Trust for long-term rights to the tract, but that won’t be signed until razing is completed and a design is finalized.

Artifact pact

Negotiations to nail down terms of the agreement have dragged on for months, with the prospect of finding significant artifacts at the site one concern. Lucas held out for safeguards against bearing heavy costs if archeological digs occur.

“That was really a concern, because we don’t know what’s under that hospital site,” Presidio Trust spokesman Ron Sonenshine said.

Even pest control was addressed. “These are little things to you and I, but they take time and a lot of talk,” a project insider observed.

Design changes

Razing operations are expected to commence within 60 days and last until April, with up to 30 months of construction to follow. Haggling over design features also has held things up, and some requested minor changes still must be addressed.

“We are pleased to have executed the agreement and will now be focusing all of our efforts on design development,” Lucas project topper Gordon Radley said.

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