NBC Universal's ambitious plans for a $3-billion overhaul of Universal City passed a milestone Thursday with the release of the long-awaited city report on how the project might affect neighbors and the surrounding area.
Much of the study, known as a draft environmental impact report focuses on the traffic that would be generated by adding nearly 3,000 residences to the famed studio property in the San Fernando Valley. The plans also call for the construction of additional studios and offices for producing movies and television shows, as well as a hotel, shops and tourist attractions.
The 39,000-page report identified noise and solid waste removal during the construction process as the primary negative effects of the development.
The release of the draft EIR by Los Angeles city planners kicks off a 60-day period for public comment before the report becomes final. Public hearings on the proposed project would begin next year. NBC Universal hopes the hearings lead to approval of the project by 2012, when construction would begin on production and office space.
It would take 15 to 20 years to build out the entire project, said Thomas Smith, senior vice president in charge of real estate on the West Coast for NBC Universal.
The company has worked for nearly four years to reach this stage in the approval process, Smith said. The recession reduced demand for new housing, but it didn't squelch the entertainment company's desire to build one of the largest infill real estate developments in Los Angeles history.