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L O S A N G E L E S
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This overhaul is too big to ignore, and I believe it should have its own thread.
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"IRON SMELTING IS OK​
BUT HOTELS ARE NOT ALLOWED"​
UNIVERSAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN ADVANCES
THE CITY RELEASES ITS DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT​
ON NBC UNIVERSAL'S PROPOSED 3 BILLION PROJECT THAT WOULD ADD​
ABOUT 3000 RESIDENCES PLUS STUDIO AND OFFICE SPACE ON ITS PROPERTY​
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ATWATER VILLAGE NEWBIE
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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.

"We're still committed to making it happen," Smith said. "We have to. Our industry is facing a lot of challenges."

NBC Universal's goal, he said, was to get approval of a plan that would allow the company to grow and adapt its business model over the next two decades. For example, most of the studio lot is currently zoned for heavy industrial uses, which stands in the way of much of the owners' plans.

"Iron smelting is OK" under such zoning, Smith said, "but hotels are not allowed."

The 391-acre property located along the 101 Freeway just north of the Cahuenga Pass is ringed by businesses and upscale homes whose residents would never put up with smelting and aren't keen on what might come with new homes and offices either.

"Our principal concern continues to be traffic," said Daniel Savage, president of the local residents group Hollywood Knolls Community Club. "Especially traffic driven by the apartments on the back lot."

NBC Universal's plan calls for 2,937 residential units to be built in low-, mid- and high-rise buildings at the east end of the studio's property. The apartments and condos would be served by neighborhood shops and restaurants. The neighborhood would be reached by a new north-south street running parallel to Barham Boulevard and served by shuttle buses to the subway stop on Lankershim Boulevard.

The street is among $100 million in transit and roadway improvements planned by NBC Universal to accommodate the project. As much as $200 million more in state and federal transportation funding could become available for freeway improvements, Smith said.

Improvements would include a new ramp and a new interchange on the 101 Freeway, which would also be widened. About half the $100 million would be spent on improving traffic flow on nearby streets and intersections, which would have to handle an additional 2,750 car trips each afternoon.

That's similar to the traffic generated by a regional shopping center, said Patrick Gibson, a traffic consultant for NBC Universal. Mitigation measures such as street widening would ease the flow at most intersections, though Lankershim would remain a bottleneck where it is flanked by the subway on one side and an office tower on the other.

One of NBC Universal's traffic mitigation proposals is to operate its own shuttle service to nearby destinations such as Burbank and Hollywood. It would also buy a large articulated bus for the MTA to operate on Ventura Boulevard, a solution economist Nancy D. Sidhu finds inventive.

"We are looking at an absolutely huge project on land inside L.A. County that is currently underutilized," said Sidhu, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Infill development makes more sense than building on the fringes of the city, she said.

"We are utilizing land that definitely is on the transportation network and they are proposing some interesting ways to utilize that transportation network more completely," she said.

NBC Universal's first priority is to build more studio space, which is primarily of benefit to NBC, she said, "but the jobs are well-paid."

The project is expected to generate 31,000 construction jobs and 12,000 full- and part-time jobs after completion, NBC Universal said.

Nearby residents will follow NBC Universal's plans closely, said Savage of Hollywood Knolls Community Club, one of about a dozen homeowner groups in the area.

"We have never been a group that categorically said no" to the project, Savage said. "We recognize their right as private property owners to realize their business potential. At the same time, it doesn't give them carte blanche to do so at the expense of their neighbors."
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PHOTO ATWATER VILLAGE NEWBIE
ROGER VINCENT​
LOSANGELESTIMES​
 

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They really should not build those residential units. Terrible! I think the idea should be from those east coast owners.
 

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More jobs sounds good for me...or isn't that good for the city or county?

Is Universal City part of Los Angeles?
 

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It sounds like the "evolution" they are talking about is from entertainment to real estate development. I think what they are trying to say is that movies are not going to be hiring people and putting them on large backlots in the future, so the land is better suited to residential, hotels and retail. I don't really know the industry, but I suppose the production facilities will be technology dominated and shooting will be a few exterior shots with the rest filled-in digitally.

This same sort of thing happened in the 60's when the old inustries disappeared and the former steel, coal, etc., companies became real estate developers. Here the industry isn't disappearing but it sounds like the need for land is. Hopefully the technical people stay here and don't run off to Silicon Valley, Toronto or India.
 

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It sounds like the "evolution" they are talking about is from entertainment to real estate development. I think what they are trying to say is that movies are not going to be hiring people and putting them on large backlots in the future, so the land is better suited to residential, hotels and retail. I don't really know the industry, but I suppose the production facilities will be technology dominated and shooting will be a few exterior shots with the rest filled-in digitally.

This same sort of thing happened in the 60's when the old inustries disappeared and the former steel, coal, etc., companies became real estate developers. Here the industry isn't disappearing but it sounds like the need for land is. Hopefully the technical people stay here and don't run off to Silicon Valley, Toronto or India.
ya i think you are mostly right. i think they will be building some new sound stages as well, but im not sure if they will be in addition to what is there now or if they will be replacing stages that are going to be torn down.
 

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Silver Lake
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Interesting how the NIMBY's don't want expansion of a key LA industry but don't want a broke city either.
 

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The NIMBY's have a legitimate point in that traffic needs to be looked at in that area.

But as far as I'm concerned this is more or less part of the "LA core" (transit, high-rises, urban oriented people). I think of it like the parts of Brooklyn adjacent to Manhattan; close-in, hip and obviously destined for becoming denser. Building and transportation upgrades need to be implemented, not suppressed.

And while we are on the subject, there are an awful lot of run down apartments in the Burbank/NoHo area that need some competition to get them to either upgrade or tear-down and densify.
 

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Went to the theater last night in NoHo and was impressed by how much the area is developing. Along Lankershim there is a real collection of nighlife opportunities and the housing on some side-streets is getting a European (or South Park but shorter) feel. It still needs people, especially on a weeknight.

It's easy to see the district from west Burbank to Universal and along Riverside and Lankershim to NoHo station becoming quite urban. And, the major transit is already in place.

btw, Rogue Machine theater group has "pay what you want" on Thursdays. Their current production (The Butcher of Baraboo) is quite good. Loved the Wisconsin accents.
 

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Burbank Leader said:
Development's traffic impact questioned
NBC Universal's expansion plan assumes public transportation use, officials said.
By Gretchen Meier, [email protected]
Burbank Leader
November 17, 2010

City officials are looking into whether developers of a massive NBC Universal project are underestimating how the added traffic will affect surrounding streets in West Burbank.

The influx could be significant. The nearly 400-acre site for the NBC Universal Evolution Plan calls for 2 million square feet of new commercial development, including 500 hotel guest rooms and 2,937 residential units by 2030.

The site in Universal City is bounded primarily by the Los Angeles Flood Control Channel, Lankershim Boulevard, Cahuenga Boulevard and Barham Boulevard.

NBC has already proposed paying for wider streets to include double left turn lanes, right turn lanes and upgraded traffic signals, as well as increasing public transportation options. Those efforts should minimize the traffic impact to West Burbank, according to the environmental report.

But city officials say they're not so sure.

"We are generally satisfied with the manner in which they conducted the study," City Planner Michael Forbes said. "We do have some concerns with the assumptions that they used."

Those assumptions include assuming the new residents will use public transportation instead of driving their own vehicles.

Developers cannot require the new residents to use public transportation.

"We are looking to see if traffic generation is lower than it really will be or what they expect to be," said Forbes. "We need to look at the effect that assumption has on the impact they found."

Burbank traffic engineers have been working with Los Angeles for at least a year to ensure the traffic impact study conformed to local metrics, Forbes said.

The report predicts that out of the 21 affected intersections in Burbank, the project will only have a "significant impact" on Olive Avenue at the Warner Bros. Studio Gate 2/Gate 3.

Pat Gibson, president of Gibson Transportation, one of two agencies that drafted the report, said Burbank uses a specific set of criteria to determine traffic impacts.

"If you've got an intersection that's already busy, then they say you cannot add any traffic," he said. "If there's an intersection that no one uses, you can add traffic, but if you add more than 1% to 2% capacity anywhere, that's a problem."

The affected intersection faces what Gibson calls an incremental impact of 2% increase in traffic, but said the suggestion to widen Olive Avenue was rejected.

The Community Development Department is in the process of reviewing the report's findings.

Gibson said he expects at least 20% of the new residents to stay and work within the project area and use the public transit options. He pointed to similar residential projects in California that showed 30% to 40% of their residents using public transportation.

"We cannot generate more than X number of trips after the completion of each phase," Gibson said. "We literally have to perform."

Burbank police and fire officials are also reviewing the impacts and how they may affect emergency response needs to the area.

"We don't have automatic aid agreements to that area," said fire Capt. Ron Bell. "No one has been approached to create a new automatic aid agreement specifically for this project."

Police Chief Scott LaChasse said the biggest impact on his department would be the additional traffic.

"We are working with the Community Development Department to ensure the necessary measures are taken into account for the additional traffic coming through Burbank and from people coming out of the area," he said.

Comments on the report must be submitted by Jan. 3. City planners will have a draft of the City Hall's official comment letter for review at the Dec. 14 City Council meeting.

The draft Environmental Impact Report is available online and at the Burbank Central Library.
Read More: http://www.burbankleader.com/news/tn-blr-eir-20101117,0,2071612.story
 

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as Klam implies with his NIMBY comment: more traffic, probably; but also more business for local merchants, more tax base and more pressure on local landlords to improve their facilities or lose tenants. Burbank stands to benefit with virtually no effort on their part (I assume everything being built is in LA city or county) except increases of traffic going to their restaurants, dry cleaners, auto repair, etc.
 

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Silver Lake
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Yes and as we've discussed before and I think that we've agreed on this that LA is going to have to fortify key remaining industries while being innovative in creating new ones e.g. Mayor V's green belt plan downtown. Since the population of the region isn't the most well educated it's imperative that LA uses every trick in the book to stay competitive. And this has kinda been the pattern of LA of the not so educated flocking to the city as far back as the huge influx of the poor white "okies" and others due to domestic emigration. Back then though we were all operating on more of a manufacturing type industry but times have changed.
 

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Yes. Fortunately, Burbank and Glendale have a real stake in the entertainment industry and understand that.

But you raise a very fundamental issue. I am comfortable that the economy will come back but I am doubtful that employment for low-skill workers is ever going to absorb the numbers of people it once did. The Okies and Arkies of today (Latin, Asian) may have to be more entrepreneurial. Fortunately, I think they are.
 

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Silver Lake
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Yes they do seem to be! From Koreans to Salvadoreans they do seem to be entrepreneurial and they are going to have to be if they want to survive. LA could possibly even come out ahead. Eventhough the Bay Area may have educated high tech workers, what's the use if that industry goes bust again? Sadly those jobs are allowed to leave and they are leaving to the BRIC nations.
 
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