Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Paramount Pictures Master Plan

Site Plan from Paramount Pictures Masterpan
Site Plan from Paramount Pictures Master Plan

The Master Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for developing the 62 acre Paramount Pictures complex in the heart of the Melrose/Larchmont Village neighborhood was presented last Wednesday evening at the monthly meeting of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.

“We are presenting a 25-year plan, but there is no drastic change in operations,” said Sharon J. Keyser, senior vice president of Real Estate, Government & Community Relations at Paramount, who, along with Andrea Ceragioli, Director of Community Relations, presented the plan. Paramount moved to the site in 1927. In 1965, it acquired the adjacent RKO Studios at Gower and Melrose. According to Keyser, the two lots were never integrated.

“We have been here for 90 years, but have never undertaken a master plan for the site,” said Keyser.  The Master Plan calls for preserving the studio’s historic legacy while investing in new production facilities and incorporating new technology that will achieve greater efficiency of the current site, including more energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable practices, explained Keyser.

Paramount is seeking to add about 1.4 million square feet of new office and production space to the lot. The plan calls for five new soundstages, an eight story office building for production staff to be at the corner of Van Ness and Melrose ( on what is currently a surface parking lot) and a 15 story office tower to be on the studio lot near Melrose and Gower. Paramount is also asking for permission to create an electronic sign district along both Gower and Melrose, converting  the historic RKO billboards along Gower to digital signs that will change image every 8 seconds.  They are also asking permission to wrap the 15 story building in super graphics.

For the last several years, Paramount has been meeting with homeowners regarding the plans.  Most recently, they’ve held meetings to discuss the specific draft of the plan included in the DEIR. Charles D’Atri, President of the Larchmont Village Homeowners Association provided the Buzz with the following details response to the Paramount Plan.

“Our sincere desire is for Paramount Pictures to remain as competitive and vibrant for the next 100 years as they have been for the last 100.  We understand and acknowledge the need to update their facilities and know they need to evolve  with the times to remain competitive.  As they are one of the largest employers in this area, they have an oversize impact on the neighborhood. We hope they will adjust their plan to reflect their long history of incorporating adaptive re-use of historic structures rather than bulldozing high value structures for antiseptic new buildings.

The proposed Paramount Master Plan would add nearly 1.4 MILLION square feet (out of 1.9 million of new space) of additional facilities.  Given the size, this plan will have a very real negative impact on our residential streets.  They have to recognize their role in the already overstressed local streets, especially Melrose and Van Ness Avenues.  We plan to continue to encourage Paramount to push their larger buildings away from Melrose Avenue, which has neither the scale nor the capacity to accommodate current needs, forget about the future’s.  Reasonable height restrictions along Melrose itself are also important to maintain the scale of the lot and the Hollywood Hills/Hollywood sign views that so many of our residents care passionately about.  Paramount should not be attempting to set a completely out of scale new height standard for Melrose Avenue, which cannot support the scale of development that the major city boulevards can.

Traffic mitigation, including additional turn lanes carved from their property & concrete plans to maximize employee usage of mass transit are critical. Paramount needs to make explicit a concrete and permanent plan to encourage mass transit usage.

At the same time, with tourism vying with entertainment production as major economic engines for Los Angeles, we sincerely hope Paramount will go the extra mile to preserve their historic buildings, especially those of the former RKO and Desilu properties along Melrose & Gower.  Those are longstanding signature buildings which set the tone for the entire neighborhood.  We have supported Paramount (and the other studios) exemption from billboard ordinances on these properties specifically because of their historic ties.  We are enthusiastic fans of recent adaptive re-use of the historic KCAL property as headquarters for the Studio Tour operation.

Given that the Paramount lots on the south side of Melrose abut purely residential properties to their south, we hope they will go the extra mile in mitigating construction issues as well as making sure these buildings fit the context of the neighborhood.   We’re not convinced the current plan does this.  On both side of Melrose, we’re open to the idea of mixed use buildings which relate to Melrose [as they have in the past] (prior to Paramount’s razing of previously existing structures).  F.A.R. and setbacks are not abstract concepts nor should they be foreign to Paramount’s development plans. Blank walls (or 8 foot hedges for that matter) don’t make for a lively streetscape.

There are three completely unacceptable proposed features in the Paramount plan.  1.) The proposed 15 story blocky glass office tower fronting on Melrose which is ridiculously out of scale and inappropriate for a business adjoining a residential area 2.) Adorning the same building as well as other substantial structures on the property with massive super graphic signs 3.) Replacing the historic billboards on the RKO Stages with a new electronic sign district with exponentially higher light values.  Unfortunately for Paramount, they are not sited in a one of the city’s entertainment districts, where this type of feature might be appropriate.  Melrose Avenue is not Times Square (nor is it L.A. Live).

The Paramount Studios property comprises the main studio area of approximately 56 acres (the “Main Lot”) and six surrounding properties of approximately 6 acres (the “Ancillary Lots”), including parcels adjacent to Larchmont Village on Melrose Avenue between Plymouth and Windsor Blvds., known as the Windsor Lot and the South Bronson lot, between Bronson and Irving.  Both are currently used for surface parking. New buildings are proposed on both sites.

The Draft EIR is required by  California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) since Paramount is requesting discretionary approval for several aspects of the plan from the City of Los Angeles Planning Department. The report reviews the potential impact of the proposed project on the environment, including, noise, traffic, pollution, etc.  The DEIR is available for review and comment by members of the community. Written comments must be sent before 4 pm on October 26, 2015, to:

Adam Villani
Department of City Planning, City of Los Angeles
6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Rm. 351
Van Nuys, CA 91401
E-mail: [email protected]
Please reference the file: ENV-2011-2460-EIR

For more information on the project visit Paramount’s website at or by phone on the project information line at 323.634.4779.


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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  1. Thank you for covering this very important part of our community life. Concerned neighbors are encouraged to submit written comments by October 26th!


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