NBC Universal unveiled its master development plan for the 391-acre Universal lot on Wednesday, calling for the construction of 2,900 residential units as well as additional production and office facilities for the studio and improvements of its theme park and retail Universal CityWalk destinations.
Dubbed the "Vision Plan," the design template for long-term development of the largest remaining studio lot will now be used in discussions with developers and government bodies to hammer out more concrete plans.
Among the major new developments being pursued are:
- Universal Village, a 124-acre residential development, which will include apartments, town homes and condos, that will be built on the currently unused land on the lot nearest Barham Blvd.
- Universal City MTA Station, a new office building and retail project to be built on the site of the MTA-owned transit hub on Lankershim Blvd. adjacent to the lot. Thomas Properties Group would develop the site and NBC Universal would be the anchor tenant of the 650,000 square foot project.
- On the lot itself, construction of new and relocated outdoor sets, post-production facilities, sound stages, producer bungalows, office space, film vault and prop and costume shops.
- Building a new four-lane public road through the lot parallel to Barham which would connect the residential development to the CityWalk and Universal Studios entrance on Cahuenga, as well as freeway access improvements to the 101 and 134 highways.
"Now is the right time to plan for the future and take a fresh look at our industry, the community and our businesses," Universal Studios prexy and COO Ron Meyer said.
Initial economic studies project that if the plan were enacted in full, it would create 11,000 new jobs and generate over $4 billion in economic activity.
No construction dates have been set as all elements of the plan still require government approval. U said it will spend the next several months discussing its master plan with the community, city and county government bodies. Thomas Properties Group is also planning to file an application with the city for the Universal City MTA Station project.
But the project has already been endorsed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who attended a press conference with Meyer to tout the development plans.
NBC U would likely bring in an outside developer to construct the new residential project. Plans call to split the 2,900 units into three villages that would be designed to be walkable neighborhoods including a "town center" that would have 100,000 square feet of retail and dining space.
To handle the increased traffic, U has included a new shuttle system that would connect Universal Village to CityWalk as well as the MTA Station. The new "Great Street" through Universal Village would run south from Forest Lawn Drive to Coral Drive.
For the MTA Station project, Thomas Properties plans to first build a campus that would include 200,000 square feet of production facilities and 450,000 square feet of entertainment-related office space. U would be the anchor tenant in the project's first phase of development. In the second phase, TPG plans to build an additional 400,000 square foot office building with ground-floor retail space.
At CityWalk, the plan calls for a refreshed Studio Tour, landscaping improvements and pedestrian connections to the MTA Station. There is also room in the plans for a new 500-room hotel and a 3,000-seat live entertainment venue which could replace the current Gibson Ampitheatre.