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L.A. County Gives Harry Potter Park the Greenlight

Park is part of NBCUniversal's planned $500 million upgrade to its backlot and tourism biz

NBCUniversal has been given the greenlight to move forward with plans to build a Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Company will spend nearly $500 million to build the park, as well as upgrade its studio backlot with new office space, TV production facilities and other infrastructure.

NBCUniversal was given the go ahead after the L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the company’s plan to invest in production and tourism projects over the next 25 years, worth $1.6 billion overall.

The Harry Potter theme park will begin construction later this summer.

Entire project is expected to create more than 2,000 construction jobs.

The park is expected to replace the space occupied by the 6,000-seat Gibson Amphitheater and surrounding areas like the park’s shuttered Terminator 2 3D attraction.

SEE ALSO: Harry Potter to Make Gibson Ampitheatre Disappear

Venture, a collaboration between Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts, will essentially replicate the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that opened in 2010 at Universal’s Orlando resort, and is currently being expanded after it’s proved a huge success there.

The Florida project, which cost around $265 million to build, features Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade village and various shops from J.K. Rowling’s books and WB’s movies while offering rides like Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff. Restaurants like the Three Broomsticks and the Hog’s Head sell frothy butterbeer, while Ollivanders and Zonko’s Joke Shop sell wands and themed candy.

“We thank Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, the entire Board of Supervisors, and County staff for providing us the path to bring much needed jobs and investment to Los Angeles,” said Corinne Verdery, chief real estate development and planning officer, NBCUniversal. “The working relationship we have built with the community was invaluable in developing our future plan and we are grateful to our nearly 7,500 supporters and union partners who have been with us every step of the way. We look forward to bringing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood, forever changing the face of tourism in Los Angeles.”

Yaroslavsky said the board’s action marks the end of a seven-year public hearing and environmental review process. Universal City lies in both city and county territory, and the portion of the project within the City of Los Angeles had received final approval from the City Council in February.

Overall “Evolution Plan” is expected to create more than 30,000 jobs and generate $2 billion of economic activity for the region, NBCUniversal said.

“After nearly a decade of work on the Evolution Plan, today’s vote sets the stage for our next 100 years in Los Angeles,” said Ron Meyer, president and COO of Universal Studios, in a statement on Tuesday. “We are thankful for the support and leadership we have received from both the County and City of Los Angeles and are ready to get started investing in these important tourism and production projects in the next few months.”

The NBCUniversal Evolution Plan is a blueprint for the 391-acre Universal City property. The plan, which still requires additional approvals from the county, also includes more than $100 million investment in transportation and transit improvements.

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