Universal City, already the world's largest movie studio lot, will also become a major office and residential hub if $3 billion worth of improvements proposed today are approved.
The proposal by owner NBC Universal would transform the 391-acre property and adjacent land into more of an urban center. The historic studio would continue to operate its theme park and make movies and television shows, while adding a residential neighborhood with 2,900 units on its back lot that would be served by a new north-south street through the property.
The 25-year plan also calls for new production facilities, restaurants, stores, a hotel and improvements to both the studio tour and Universal CityWalk retail and entertainment center.
The proposal won praise from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and some other political leaders, but reaction from neighborhood activists concerned about traffic and congestion was mixed.
The proposal would conform to current urban planning trends that call for denser development around public transportation nodes. Universal is adjacent to a Metro Rail subway stop.
"This is really a chance for us to take Universal into the next century," said Ron Meyer, president of the studio. "The plan makes sense for the community too."
Universal officials intend to file development applications with the city and county in early 2007 and begin an approval process that could take more than two years. The studio urgently needs more production facilities because it is often operating at 95% of capacity, Meyer said.
Universal's 30 soundstages are usually booked 24 hours a day, with internal productions having to share space with outside television, commercial and movie productions that rent the spaces.
Plans call for a new studio and office campus, across Lankershim Boulevard on parking lots around the subway station, to be built by Los Angeles developer Thomas Properties Group.