NBC Universal will turn its empty “Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” soundstage into the new home for KNBC and NBC News’ Los Angeles bureau.

The Universal lot’s Stage One has been dark since O’Brien signed off earlier this year. NBC U announced Thursday that it would remodel the building into a two-story high-definition studio and newsroom housing both operations.

The new KNBC/NBC News facility is set to open in 2012.

New home comes after NBC U scrapped its original plans, announced in 2007, to relocate KNBC and its NBC News L.A. operations to a brand new property across the street from Universal Studios.

Thomas Properties is developing that site, dubbed “Metro Studio @ Lankershim,” a 650,000-square-foot project located on Lankershim Blvd. where an MTA Red Line subway stop and a parking lot stand.

But that new complex, originally targeted to open in 2011, was delayed by entitlements and other issues (local homeowners raised a fuss over traffic concerns, for example.)
According to a Thomas spokesperson, Metro Studio @ Lankershim is still in the works, and is now targeted to open at the end of 2016 or early 2017.

NBC U is still expected to be a major tenant at that time — and KNBC is still said to possibly make another move then. But for now, 2016/2017 is too far away for the station, which needs a new coat of paint now.

Hence this new plan, actually located inside the Universal lot. Move ends KNBC’s nearly 50-year run in Burbank.

NBC U sold its longtime Burbank lot in 2008 to M. David Paul/Worthe Real Estate Group; since then, it has leased back much of the facility. Besides KNBC and NBC News’ L.A. bureau, the lot continues to be the home of KVEA/KWHY; “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and the NBC Agency, among other divisions. NBC Entertainment moved to the Universal lot a few years ago.

KNBC and NBC News’ Los Angeles have had to contend for years with an older, ratty studio and newsroom — while competitors KABC and KCBS/KCAL have moved into brand-new, technologically advanced facilities over the past decade.

“The Universal facility will be top-notch — consisting of the best technology, infrastructure and people in the business,” said NBC News prexy Steve Capus.

Besides the 60,000 square foot facility, NBC U will also retrofit a five-story office building to house KNBC and NBC News tech support and executive offices.

More details here.