Lucasfilm scraps plans for new studio after 25 years of complaints, flips local residents the bird

lucasfilm scraps plans for new studio after 25 years of complaints flips local residents the bird gradyLucasfilm Ltd., the production company founded by director George Lucas and the force behind the Star Wars franchise, pulled its bid yesterday on the Grady Ranch property located in Lucas Valley, north of San Francisco. In an angrily worded statement, Lucasfilm cited ongoing delays and frustration with the attitude of local homeowners as its reasons for pulling out.

“We love working and living in Marin, but the residents of Lucas Valley have fought this project for 25 years, and enough is enough,” said the company. “The level of bitterness and anger expressed by the homeowners in Lucas Valley has convinced us that, even if we were to spend more time and acquire the necessary approvals, we would not be able to maintain a constructive relationship with our neighbors.”

The company seems to be getting the last laugh, however. The statement concludes with the pointed suggestion that the company will sell the property in Lucas Valley – where the median annual income is over $100,000 – with plans for it to be developed as low-income housing.

We plan to sell the Grady property expecting that the land will revert back to its original use for residential housing. We hope we will be able to find a developer who will be interested in low income housing since it is scarce in Marin. If everyone feels that housing is less impactful on the land, then we are hoping that people who need it the most will benefit.”

Lucasfilm Ltd., which originally began acquiring land in Lucas Valley (named for a 19th century farmer with no relation to the filmmaker) in 1978 with its development of Skywalker Ranch, a 4,700-acre location that houses animals, vineyards, gardens, athletic facilities and multiple theater screening rooms. 

Unlike Skywalker Ranch, which has been described as a filmmaker’s retreat rather than a center of business, the Grady Ranch facility would have been primarily focused on production. The plan called for a 269,000-square-foot digital media studio, two indoor sound stages and a 7,000-foot outdoor sound stage, as well as screening rooms, guest housing, an employee cafeteria, and auxiliary facilities such as guest housing and a wine cave.

lucasfilm scraps plans for new studio after 25 years of complaints flips local residents the bird george lucasLeaders of local groups that supported the project are dismayed by the decision, which eliminates the promise of the hundreds of jobs the project would have brought to the area. “After tens of millions in investments, that they would make a decision not to go forward is a devastating blow for the county of Marin,” said Cynthia Murray, head of the North Bay Leadership Council.

“It’s disappointing,” said Ed Segal, CEO of the Marin Association of Realtors. “We should be doing all we can to keep, grow and attract jobs.”

However, the project also had it its detractors, including the Marin Conservation League, which worried that the introduction of such a large facility would increase traffic, noise and result in environmental damage to the area. “The Phase II development would have allowed office and industrial uses in an area zoned for housing and agriculture,” said the MCL on its site. “The MCL’s concerns focused on the massive reshaping of the landscape and Miller Creek… the Grady Ranch facility would have rebuilt the landscape to fit the structures [of the project].”

The Marin County planning commission approved the project in February, but the decision was appealed last week by the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association, which represents the owners of 174 homes near the 52-acre project site. Liz Dale, president of the organization, expressed relief. “We are glad we don’t have to worry about the potential impacts we were worried about,” said Dale. “We don’t want to describe it as good news or bad news, but I can understand why another location would be better for this type of facility.”

In apparent response to these concerns, the Lucasfilm statement refers to the project’s proposed restoration and preservation measures, citing similar endeavors around Skywalker Ranch, including the preservation of 5,000 acres, the planting of 8,000 trees on the property, and the company’s provision of fire and rescue aid to the surrounding community.

“We realize our solution to creating open space by placing low-impact commercial facilities on farmland, while permanently preserving over 95 percent of the total acreage, has not been accepted by our neighbors. Nor are they or many of the public agencies interested in the $50 to $70 million restoration of the stream. Maybe we’re ahead of our time.”

Lucasfilm spokeswoman Lynne Hale has stated that two cities have contacted the company about building the new studio in their municipalities and said that Lucasfilm is already in talks with developers about selling Grady Ranch.

Mobile

What do golden retrievers and Samsung Note 9 owners have in common? Loyalty

Samsung has introduced the Galaxy Note 9, but rumors have spread it may be the last of its kind due to its similarity with the Galaxy S9 Plus. We spoke to Samsung about the productivity device's future.
Wearables

Is this proof Google plans to launch a Pixel Watch soon?

From its Pixel smartphones to Google Home, the Google brand is quickly becoming synonymous with high-quality consumer hardware. This year, it looks like Google may branch out a little further by creating its first smartwatch.
Cars

Whistleblower says a drug-peddling Mexican cartel thrives in Tesla’s Gigafactory

A former Tesla employee says the firm covered up links between some of its workers and a Mexican drug cartel, spied on its employees by wiretapping their phones, and failed to report a $37 million theft. Tesla denies the claims.
Movies & TV

David Harbour is 'taking risks' with Jim Hopper in 'Stranger Things' season 3

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Smart Home

Vitamix recalls 100,000 blender containers after multiple ‘lacerations’

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall of about 105,000 Vitamix blending containers after 11 customers reported accidents, including lacerations due to a design flaw in the product.
Smart Home

Brew it fast, hot, and flavorful with our favorite coffee makers

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: inflatable backpacks and robotic submarines

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Google may release a digital display smart speaker in time for the holidays

The new speaker will join Google's existing range of smart speakers, utilizing the voice assistant Google Assistant. The lineup currently includes the Google Home, the Home Mini, and the Home Max.
Smart Home

Alexa can play smart home camera video recaps on Echo, Fire devices

Now you can ask Alexa to show the last recorded video from smart home security cameras on Echo Show, Echo Spot, Fire TV, and Fire Tablets. Video replay is enabled for Ring, August, Arlo, Cloud Cam, and Logitech cameras.
Product Review

Can’t decide between coffee and cappuccino? Now you don’t have to

Some days you want straight coffee, while other days you need a stronger kick in the you-know-what. But who has both a coffee and an espresso machine? With the DeLonghi BC0430 Coffee Machine, you can have the best of both worlds.
Smart Home

The best washing machines make laundry day a little less of a chore

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.
Smart Home

The best stud finders of 2018

Endlessly searching for a stud in your wall can be a chore. Fortunately, these seven stud finders are both high-tech and straightforward, meaning you can drill, nail, and hang with the utmost confidence.
Mobile

Apple aficionados, these cute pillows are made just for you

Created as "a cuddly tribute to the tech that changed our lives," these cute pillows will be hard to resist for diehard Apple fans. Each one features an iconic Apple product, including the first iMac and the game-changing iPod.
Smart Home

Schlage’s custom hardware collection expands upgrades to exterior doors

Schlag's expanded Custom Door Hardware collection now includes exterior handlesets. Schlage's upgrades let homeowners switch from doorknobs to levers and from non-locking to locking doors easily without replacing inner lock cores.