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NBCUniversal Plans Massive Transit Investment
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Universal Studio Globe in Los Angeles
Universal City, home to Universal Studio in Los Angeles for nearly 100 years, is evolving with an extensive 20-year plan to redevelop its campus—including a $100-million in investment in transportation upgrades. © Universal Studios Hollywood

NBCUniversal’s Universal City, in Los Angeles, is evolving, and through its ongoing development of the site is planning a $100-million investment in the local transportation infrastructure.

February 19, 2013—Universal City, which has been Universal Studio’s home in Los Angeles for nearly 100 years, is evolving. An extensive 20-year plan to redevelop the campus—home to the combined NBCUniversal since 2004—has passed through the City of Los Angeles approval process, and will be reviewed by the County of Los Angeles beginning this month. As part of that redevelopment plan, NBCUniversal is investing $100 million in upgrades to the nearby transportation infrastructure.

NBCUniversal’s Universal City is a vast compound just north of Hollywood, California, that encompasses approximately 391 acres. The site is bounded by the Los Angeles River to the north, Barham Boulevard and residences to the east, the 101 Freeway to the south, and Lankershim Boulevard to the west. The site itself is well known for containing Universal Studios, a working television and movie studio, as well as the Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park. CityWalk, a shopping, restaurant, and entertainment district, is also located within Universal City.

“The land use here, and its combination, is extraordinary,” Says Bob Hale, FAIA, the lead principal in charge of the studio project for Los Angeles, California-based Rios Clementi Hale Studios, the master plan architects for Universal City’s redevelopment. “There is no place else, really, where you will get actual production of TV and movies at the same place, where you can stay on the property in a hotel, as well as go see a movie at CityWalk, or go to a concert, go shopping, and eat—the whole city is entertainment.”

The on-site redevelopment of the Universal City studio will include upgrades as well as 307,949 sq ft of new production facilities and 647,320 sq ft of production support space, including producer bungalows, postproduction facilities, and a expansive child care center. The project also adds 495,406 sq ft of new office space. As part of the project, a number of parking lots will be moved and consolidated into parking structures so that space can be opened up for the new buildings, according to Hale.

“There’s a multiplicity of different entertainment brands and entertainment types [on the site] and the real challenge is to both enhance and support those existing businesses on the one hand, and on the other hand bring opportunities for them to come together and do things that they never would have done,” Hale says. “What we’re trying to do is impart to it a streetscape and architecture that is really going to reflect an entertainment personality that has grown up there, and implies a much more open, much more collaborative kinds of buildings and environments.”

The expansion of the entertainment district, which includes both the theme park and CityWalk, will include 337,895 sq ft of new theme park attractions, as well as 39,216 sq ft of new retail and dining options. Two new hotels are also being added to the site.

 Rendering of NBCU City Hotel on a widened road

 As part of the project, 120 intersections will be improved, three
nearby roads will be upgraded and widened, a 5 mi stretch of
Highway 101 will be upgraded, and the campus’s access to an
adjacent Metro station will be improved. © Rios Clementi
Hale Studios

But the work also extends off-site with the company’s significant investment in the local transportation infrastructure. The $100-million planned investment is the largest private-sector investment in transportation in the area for the last 25 years, according to NBCUniversal’s website. It includes improvements to local roads and a highway as well as mass transit. As part of the project, 120 intersections will be improved; three nearby roads will be upgraded and widened; a 5 mi stretch of Highway 101 will be upgraded, including an onramp and an interchange; and the campus’s access to an adjacent Metro station will be improved. 

“Part of the interest … is to have the property much more plugged into the whole urban fabric of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles region,” Hale says. “So we’ve done lots of work on making sure that traffic is going to work well.” According to Hale, the studio will be the only one in Los Angeles that is tied into mass transit.

The project is expected to generate $2.7 billion in economic activity during construction, according to NBCUniversal, and an additional $2 billion in economic activity during operations. The construction and increased operations will create more than 30,000 jobs.


 

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