LA Council approves a massive overhaul at Paramount Studios

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Paramount Studios, the last major film studio based in Hollywood, is in for pretty thorough makeover after the LA City Council approved a plan Tuesday that will add nearly 1.4 million square feet of new floor space to the historic complex.

Paramount has been hoping to redevelop its campus for some time, first unveiling plans for a 25-year overhaul back in 2011. The project approved by the city Tuesday calls for the demolition of more than 500,000 square feet of sound stages and office space that currently occupy the site. This will be replaced with numerous new structures, including a 150-foot office tower (five feet taller than the studio’s iconic water tower).

Originally, plans called for the tower to reach 240 feet, but the city’s planning commission nixed that idea, siding with local residents who complained that the tower’s height would be wildly out of step with the surrounding area. Commissioners also rejected Paramount’s proposal to top the tower with a digital sign.

According to the LA Times, the studio has also agreed to pay $475,000 to neighboring Council District 4 in order to address traffic issues raised by the project.

Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who reps the 13th District, where the studio is located, said that the council’s approval would send a signal that the studio “can thrive, grow, and evolve right alongside the residential community surrounding it.”

Of course, not all community members are thrilled with the plan. Some were at the council meeting and expressed concern about potential traffic problems and a perceived lack of thoroughness in the project’s environmental review process.

The Coalition to Preserve LA also weighed in, arguing that city officials had intentionally delayed hearings on the plan in order to deny opponents the chance to speak against it. The organization is behind a controversial anti-development ballot measure that would put a moratorium on large projects like the Paramount plan that require the council to make exemptions to local zoning restrictions.

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