Angelenos who drive between downtown, Hollywood and San Fernando Valley dodged a bullet with the cancellation of Metro and NBCUniversal's bizarre plan for a skyscraper at the Red Line subway stop near Universal City -- a $3 billion project dubbed Metro Studios@Lankershim.
News stories yesterday left out the fact that Metro had shilled the Hollywood Freeway-adjacent project, to be built by Thomas Properties Group, as a "transit-oriented development" that would reduce congestion. Utter bunk. No skyscraper in our Milky Way System ever cut traffic. Ever.
You know a project is good-and-dead when its former web site is entirely in Chinese.
As the Hollywood Reporter and others noted over the last several hours, NBCUniversal was so keen to get out of its skyscraper deal with Metro and Thomas Properties that it paid a hefty $9 million fee to walk away.
Maybe NBCUniversal realized the skyscraper thing was just too-too ugly to build. And be sure to check out this "promise the moon" pdf making it sound like the project was going to save Los Angeles from itself.
Imagine the strained conversation unfolding downtown right now at Metro's gleaming, over-imposing headquarters near Union Station:
Metro Chief Arthur T. Leahy: "Jesus Christ, Lonnie, how are we transit folks ever going to justify a huge new complex jammed with workers and their cars -- and call it 'transit-oriented' -- if no big corporation will play ball?"
Metro Chief Operations Officer Lonnie Mitchell: "But Arthur, can you believe we sold it as 'congestion reduction' for four whole years before the project collapsed? Hell, that's an achievement right there. Isn't it, Murthy?"
Transit Project Delivery Executive Director K.N. Murthy: "You bet, Lonnie and Arthur! We even have some journalists convinced that erecting 1.5 million square feet of facilities in one of the most congested communities in the United States is good for the roads! The workers will take the subway! Laughed 'til I cried!"
Instead of a skyscraper, NBCUniversal, the key tenant, announced several hours ago that it will instead re-purpose an existing modest building, recently vacated by Technicolor, on Lankershim at the entrance to Universal Studios.
So, instead of 1.5 million feet of pointless overbuilding that would have drawn thousands of cars -- and very few subway riders -- NBCUniversal will take up just 150,000 square feet for its new NBC West Coast headquarters.
Residents of the surrounding community of Studio City have to be relieved. The bad news is:
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NBCUniversal chose the architectural firm Gensler to redesign the Technicolor building.
Gensler is an ultra-corporate, global giant based in San Francisco that loves to take corporate welfare from taxpayers, as the Weekly has previously reported in a story headlined "Villaraigosa Quietly Plans to Hand Gensler $1 Million Meant for the Poor."
Gensler's out-of-touch architects designed the nasty L.A. Live complex in downtown Los Angeles. Now they plan to spread that kind of jumbled blight to Studio City.