Coming From “Beautiful Downtown”… uh… “From the place across the street from Universal Studios”

A big story in the news today down here in Los Angeles is the announcement that NBC is planning on leaving its home at 3000 Alameda in Beautiful Downtown Burbank for new digs across from Universal Studios. The Burbank studio has been home to many storied productions, including Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In (which I remember watching live–a writer was a client of my parents), the Tonight show, and most KNBC productions. The current site, purchased in 1951 with current studio facilities constructed in 1962, is felt by NBC to have a limiting infrastructure (translation: they feel they can get more money selling the facility).

They are moving to the new facility to consolidate operations. The West Coast News Headquarters and Content Center of NBC will be the anchor tenant of a nearly 1.5-million-square-foot project. The new “green” facility, with its high-definition news headquarters, is scheduled to house NBC News’ West Coast operations and the local news staffs of KNBC and Spanish-language Telemundo KVEA-TV Channel 52. NBC’s syndicated entertainment show “Access Hollywood” would also be located there. NBC’s plan also calls for a street-side studio modeled after NBC’s “Today” show set in New York, as well as state-of-the-art production facilities that will allow the company’s news organizations to more easily share content. This is similar to the consolidation they are doing in New York.

But what interests me more is where they are moving. According to the article:

The company intends to relocate the network and local news operations from Burbank to a new headquarters in a massive complex planned a couple of miles away on Lankershim Boulevard, across the street from Universal Studios.

A Red Line subway station and a sprawling parking lot now occupy the proposed site next to the 101 Freeway. The subway stop will remain and be part of the new complex.

Read that again: they are building on top of the new Metro station and park-and-ride lot. How can they do that?

Universal’s former owner, Music Corp. of America, sold the parcel to the MTA in the mid-1990s . As part of the transfer, Universal kept a “right of first refusal” for any future development plans on the site. Last year, NBC Universal told the MTA that it would be exercising its development option.

NBC has indicated they plan to still provide Metro parking; Phase 1 of the so-called Metro Universal Project would include a 655,200-square-foot office complex and a 315,000-square-foot media production facility with up to 1,780 parking spaces, of which 564 would be reserved for Metro subway riders (up from the current 450 slots). There would also be retail shops and restaurants.

But that’s not all, folks. NBC Universal also has a $3-billion development plan for Universal City that would add 2,900 homes to the area, as well as new production facilities and retail space. The project, which must get county and city approval, could take several years to get off the ground. This spells one thing: congestion.

Adding even more complications is a little site called Campo De Cahuenga, which is the location of the Capitulation at Cahuenga, (also known as the Treaty of Cahuenga). It concluded hostilities in California between Mexican and United States forces. It was an agreement symbolizing “Peace with Honor”, signed by Lt. Colonel John C. Fremont and General Andres Pico on January 13, 1847, and followed by a Fiesta. It concluded the policy of Manifest Destiny one nation from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and it is the unofficial Birthplace of California. All this development is right on top of the historic site.

It should be, as Arte Johnson once said, “Verrrrrrrry Interesting.”