NBC Universal Commits $3 Billion to Improving L.A. Facilities

20-year evolution plan includes new residential area, improvements to CityWalk, theme park, studio.

NBC Universal today released details of the $3 billion NBC Universal Evolution Plan, its long-term vision for improving and upgrading its 391-acre Universal City property. The plan is a significant statement of the company's commitment to Los Angeles.

The plan encompasses upgrading NBCU's studio production and post-production facilities, adding new-media-related office space, enhancing CityWalk and the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park and creating a new residential neighborhood.

It also includes a $100 million transit and transportation package, the largest private-sector investment in transportation to the San Fernando Valley in 25 years.

The plan is expected to create 31,000 jobs during the construction period and 12,000 new, ongoing full-time and part-time jobs from operations. Once completed, the plan will generate $26 million in new revenues every year to the city and county of Los Angeles and more than $2 billion in new economic activity annually throughout the county.

“We must look ahead and plan for our future in a way that strengthens Universal Studios’ role as the world’s largest working studio, secures quality entertainment jobs and ensures that Los Angeles remains the hub of both motion picture and television production,” said Ron Meyer, president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios.

“We believe the Evolution Plan is an important step forward on how we will meet the challenges ahead for our industries by creating and securing important entertainment jobs, bringing much needed housing that is connected to transit and by investing in significant local, regional, transit and freeway improvements for the Valley,” said Tom Smith, senior vice president, West Coast Real Estate, NBC Universal.

Originally named the Vision Plan, announced in late 2006, the plan was designed as a long-range blueprint for the Universal City property. Since then NBC Universal has been working with stakeholders, community leaders, businesses and government agencies to refine the original Vision Plan for Universal City to better meet the long-term needs of Los Angeles while fulfilling NBC Universal’s business needs.

Refinements include revisions to the land use plans for the studio and production areas, evolving the master plan for the residential neighborhood and increasing and detailing local and regional transportation, transit and freeway improvements.

Key elements of the studio plan include 308,000 net new square feet of production facilities, encompassing new and relocated outdoor sets, soundstages, producer bungalows, screening theater, rehearsal hall and a film vault; 437,000 net new square feet of production support space and post facilities; and 495,000 net new square feet of modern offices, including a new Child Care Center and improved parking and traffic circulation.

Universal Studios Hollywood will see the addition of 146,000 net new square feet of attractions, with an additional 39,000 net new square feet of retail, dining and entertainment venues at CityWalk. The plan also includes the option to replace the amphitheater with a smaller venue and to build a new 500-room hotel at CityWalk.

The residential portion of the Evolution Plan proposes to transform a portion of Universal’s studio property into a community with 35 acres of open space comprised of parks and trails. The hillside neighborhood would offer a variety of housing options, including apartments, townhomes and luxury condominiums, all within a walkable community tied to nature, hiking trails, parks, restaurants and local shops connected to public transit.

In addition, the community is designed with an alternative road to Barham Boulevard through the community from Forest Lawn Drive to Buddy Holly Drive, allowing for easy access to the 134 and 101 freeways.

The residential community is part of a pilot program by the U.S. Green Building Council and its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development called LEED-ND, which will include environmentally sustainable design and building practices.

The community will have a program of shuttles for the residents connecting to the adjacent Metro Red Line station on Lankershim Boulevard, the surrounding studios in Burbank and the Metro Rail stations in Glendale and Hollywood. This will enable residents to travel to and from work without using a car.

“The NBC Universal Evolution Plan has the potential to change the way we live and commute in Los Angeles. By creating a sustainable community connected to transit in the heart of established business districts, there is an exciting new alternative that does not exist in Los Angeles County today,” said Bob Hale, master plan architect for the Evolution Plan and principal of Rios Clementi Hale Studios.

The Evolution Plan includes a comprehensive transportation plan leveraging local, regional and transit improvements focused on connections to the property and increasing mobility. It invests in important intersections, street widenings and other major physical transportation improvements as well as implementing an aggressive program aimed at encouraging employees, visitors and residents to use public transit.

All new office buildings and the new hotel at CityWalk will be designed to be consistent with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification, the company said. In addition, the project will continue NBC Universal’s long-standing commitment to recycling and will implement new programs for construction debris.