NBCUniversal's $1.6 billion Evolution Plan took a major step forward Tuesday, with the unanimous approval of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.
That means work can begin this summer on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as well as upgraded TV production studios, office space and infrastructure on the Universal Studios lot. Besides the new attraction, NBCUniversal's 25-year plan calls for upgrades throughout the 391-acre Universal City property, including new office, retail and studio space and post-production facilities.
“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 chief operating office of Universal Studios. “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.”
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The City of L.A. approved the project earlier this year. NBCUniversal projects that the expansion will create more than 30,000 jobs and generate $2 billion of economic activity in the county.
In winning approval for the plan, Universal has agreed to contribute $13.5 million to help revitalize the L.A. River and improve its adjacent bike path. Originally, the Evolution Plan was to include the construction of apartments, condos and retail space on the back lot, but that was scrapped after concerns regarding the environmental impact were raised.
Final approval and permits are still required, but the board's blessing clears the path for those.
Similar to the version that opened in 2010 at Universal Orlando Resort, the Harry Potter attraction will be faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle that will serve as the centerpiece. Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts are collaborating on the attraction.