Expansion Plan Unveiled for Universal City
LOS ANGELES, December 6, 2006 -- Officials unveiled an ambitious plan to revamp Universal City on Wednesday.
The 25-year master plan, unveiled by NBC Universal, envisions an 80,000-square-foot expansion of the theme park, new high-tech soundstages and a residential development called "Universal Village."
The studio has been hampered in recent years by complex zoning and environmental regulations from building new rides at the park or developing its vast back lot. A succession of corporate owners with conflicting business plans also stunted the studio's growth.
Universal City, in the Hollywood Hills overlooking the San Fernando Valley, was founded in 1915 by Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Studios.
The then 250-acre ranch was used to make silent movies. Laemmle created the first studio tour, which consisted in its earliest days of people standing on a platform or on bleachers while filming took place below.
A poster made to commemorate the opening of Universal City proclaims it, "The strangest place on earth - an entire city built and used exclusively for the making of moving pictures."
The plot expanded over the decades to include the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park and a shopping and retail area called CityWalk.
The new plan calls for selling off 124 acres of mostly undeveloped land to a builder for a new residential community. Some movie sets and soundstages would be moved while new state-of-the art facilities would be built.
The theme park particularly has suffered from being unable to add rides and attractions to compete with nearby Disneyland and Six Flags Magic Mountain. Under current regulations, old rides have to be scrapped to make way for new ones.
The new plan would allow for expansion, including a revamp of its venerable tram studio tour.
Any construction is at least two to three years away as the company secures the permits and approvals needed for the entire project.
Disney is the parent company of ABC7.
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