Hackman Capital, owner and developer of the Television City property at Beverly and Fairfax will be holding a community open house tomorrow – Sunday, October 22 – from 1-4 p.m. at Television City Studios, 200 N. Fairfax Ave., to present and gain neighborhood comments on the latest version of its proposed redevelopment and modernization of the 25-acre studio. According to the developers, “Guests will have ample opportunity to see our project plans, provide feedback, ask questions, and enjoy light refreshments.” The event is “family-friendly,” including an arts and crafts table for the kids, as well as hot pretzels and fresh waffles provided by Perfect Party LA (Kosher dietary laws observed). If you’d like to attend, RSVPs are required and you can sign up here. Parking will be available on the studio lot; enter at the Fairfax gate.
Sunday’s event is actually the second of two open houses this week. The first was held on Wednesday, October 18. The gatherings are not tied to any major new announcements about the project, or any big milestones in its approval process, but they do include information about a new draft of the Specific Plan proposed for the site.
According to Jonathan Lonner, a planning consultant for the project we spoke with at Wednesday’s open house, all of the current project details are same as previously presented to the public, and the new draft of the Specific Plan – an overall planning document common to several local studios – focuses on “right-sizing” the proposed land uses to make it clearer that the studio use of the property is primary, and other uses are prohibited unless they support the studio.
The Specific Plan updates, as well as the extensive presentation boards at Wednesday’s open house, and a Fact Sheet distributed at the event (which aligns with an online version here), also appear to directly address many of the project criticisms raised over the last few months by the Neighbors for Responsible TVC Development, a community group that has opposed the project so far, and which questioned several aspects of the previous Specific Plan draft, which was released in 2021 but not widely circulated in the community until last month.
Among the group’s concerns were the potential for possible future non-studio (e.g. retail or residential) uses on the site (which they feared could be approved without community review or input), the large square footage of proposed new structures, the height of a proposed new office tower, potential traffic issues during both construction and long-term operation, de-watering and potential seismic issues, whether or not local infrastructure can support the proposed expansion, many years of construction, and more specific requests such as the number of liquor licenses requested for the project, and the operation of an on-site heliport.
And the new the Fact Sheet and Specific Plan draft do address many of these issues, saying:
- The purpose of the new construction is specifically intended to “preserve the site’s long-standing use as a studio and modernize the facility to meet today’s content creators’ needs.”
- No residential projects are planned for the site, and the new Specific Plan actually permits fewer kinds of uses than the original Commercial zoning of the property. The uses allowed under the Specific Plan would be limited to sound stages, production support, production offices, general offices, and retail, as well as “ancillary” uses that support those specified above. (The ancillary uses include cellular and other communications facilities, childcare, emergency medical facilities, the helipad, parking, recreational and fitness facilities, security facilities and entry kiosks, sleeping quarters for infrequent use by on-site personnel, and more.)
- While residential uses, or other “substantial changes” to the allowed uses of the site could be requested at some point in the future, the Plan specifies that a discretionary (public) review process would be required for anything outside the scope of the initial plans, and there would also be an opportunity for public appeals.
- The project’s proposed Floor Area Ratio of 1.75:1 represents a 17% increase from the current 1.5:1 allowed at the site, but it is still smaller than some parcels at the adjacent Grove and Original Farmers Market, and also smaller than the nearby Broadcast Center Apartments, which has a FAR of approximately 2:1.
- While the site’s existing zoning has no height limits, the proposed Specific Plan has both height limits and setback and step-back requirements.
- The intended construction period is 32 months (though as with other kinds of construction projects, market conditions and other factors could affect the schedule).
- The DEIR “determined that the Project would not result in significant transportation impacts during construction and operation.”
- The number of requested alcohol permits (10) is common for studios (Lonner said Paramount, for example, has the same number of liquor permits), and they would mostly be for on-site cafeterias and dining rooms that serve studio talent, production teams and other employees. The permits would also “support the neighborhood-serving retail and cafe uses that are designed to activate the frontage along Beverly Boulevard and/or Fairfax Avenue.”
- “There will be no nightclubs at TVC.” Existing commercial zoning would allow such businesses, but the new Specific Plan would prohibit them.
- There is already a helipad at the studio, constructed more than 50 years ago and in use since then. It would continue to operate as usual with its established permits.
Aside from the new Specific Plan draft, the project is otherwise awaiting its final environmental clearance. A Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was released in the summer of 2022, and the developers are currently writing responses to all of the comments submitted during a 60-day public comment period after the DEIR release. The comments and responses will be included in the final EIR, which is expected to be published soon.
After the EIR process, the project – which was supported by the Mid City West Neighborhood Council in 2022 – will be reviewed by the Department of City Planning, with hearings at the City Planning Commission, the City Council’s Planning & Land Use Management Committee, and the full City Council before its final approval.