North Bay Business Journal

Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 1:50 pm

Lucas withdraws Grady Ranch studio project

Plans to sell property, look for site ‘in communities that see us as a creative asset’


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    Lucasfilm Grady Ranch

    Filmmaker and Marin resident George Lucas planned to build this 270,000-square-foot office building and digital movie studio on his Grady Ranch property off Lucas Valley Road near San Rafael. (click to enlarge)

    SAN RAFAEL — Filmmaker George Lucas has dropped plans to build a 270,000-square-foot digital movie studio northwest of San Rafael and will take the project elsewhere, his real estate company announced this afternoon.

    “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,” according to a Skywalker Properties letter sent by email to people interested in the Grady Ranch project along Lucas Valley Road. “We love working and living in Marin, but the residents of Lucas Valley have fought this project for 25 years, and enough is enough. Marin is a bedroom community and is committed to building subdivisions, not business.”

    Was George Lucas justified in withdrawing his project at Grady Ranch?

    • Yes (98%, 61 votes)
    • No (2%, 1 votes)
    • Unsure (0%, 0 votes)

    Total voters: 62
    Polling period: April 17, 2012 @ 12:00 pm – April 24, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

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    This NBBJ Pulse Poll runs through April 24. View all polls.

    Skywalker Properties plans to sell the Grady Ranch property and look elsewhere quickly for a new studio site, because projects planned to be made in the new studio in 2013 already are in production, according to the letter.

    “We have several opportunities to build the production stages in communities that see us as a creative asset, not as an evil empire, and if we are to stay on schedule we must act on those opportunities,” the letter said.

    [For the county Board of Supervisors response to the Skywalker Properties action, see "County urges Lucas to continue Grady Ranch project," April 12.]

    Lucasfilm moves forward with affordable housing at Grady Ranch

    May 8, 2012

    NOVATO — Lucasfilm has partnered with the Marin Community Foundation to explore options for building affordable housing on the Grady Ranch property near San Rafael that George Lucas originally planned for a sizable digital-movie studio. [read more]

    The master plan for movie production facilities on Mr. Lucas’ Grady Ranch and Big Rock properties in west Marin were approved in 1996. In 2009 Skywalker Properties submitted a Grady Ranch precise development plan for a production building and supplemental environmental impact report related to changes from the master plan, which included a $50 million to $70 million restoration of Miller and Grady creeks through and along the property.

    The county Planning Commission unanimously approved the Grady Ranch precise plan and updated environmental review on Feb. 27. The Lucas Valley Estate Homeowners Association appealed that approval to the county Board of Supervisors. [See "Neighbors appeal Lucas project approval," March 14.]

    Another complication for the project came just days before the April 3 county Board of Supervisors hearing on the appeal. A comment letter from regulatory agencies faulted some of the methodology in the studies included in the project supplemental environmental impact report on the effects of planned extensive earth moving and restoring Grady and Miller creeks. The supervisors tabled consideration of the appeal so that county legal and planning staff could look into the ramifications of those comments on project approval. [See "Grady Ranch decision delayed on regulator concerns," April 3.]

    “This is a devastating loss,” said Cynthia Murray, president and chief executive officer of North Bay Leadership Council, a Sonoma-Marin business advocacy group that had its origins in earlier contested Lucas projects. “Losing the Geroge Lucas seal of approval of being in Marin County will have a detrimental effect for many years. … They’ve been essential to the Marin story about coming here and growing here.”

    San Rafael Chamber CEO Rick Wells said in a statement the business group was eager to help revive the Grady Ranch project.

    “If there is any chance we can do something to save this project, we should work together to do so immediately,” he wrote. “Without question, it has a far-reaching and significant impact on the health of our economy and our entire county.”

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    1. April 10, 2012, 2:20 pm

      by boethius

      Wow. First ILM and now Grady Ranch. The response of the community and the County is astonishing. Lucasfilm was there before the Lucas Valley Estates development and has been a very good neighbor and a very solid corporate citizen to Marin County. Yet they’re being rebuffed at every turn when opportunities to grow their business and add hundreds of millions in revenue stream to the County over time and hundreds if not thousands of permanent jobs to the community – all with minimally-impacting developments that are, if anything, an enhancement to the environment. One wonders where this continual anti-business rancor stems from – I suppose it’s from the citizens who apparently want Marin to remain a semi-pristine hub of expensive residential real estate and apparently vote against County and City councilors who don’t vote and/or file lawsuits against businesses that strive to grow there. Well, they’ve gotten what they want now. I expect Lucas will simply take this project to San Francisco, who will almost certainly welcome him, as I’m sure all of the surrounding counties and cities would.

    2. April 10, 2012, 2:55 pm

      by Nanette

      I’m sure the homeowners of Lucas Valley Estates who fought this will be happy to have their taxes raised to make up for the lost revenue. Shame on them, as well as the county and city councilors for failing to lead, and letting this fantastic job creation and tax revenue to go elsewhere.

    3. April 10, 2012, 3:07 pm

      by Thomas

      When are these NIMBY people going to get a life!….guess they have nothing better to do!…I worked in Marin for 20 years and saw too much of this…I’m all behind you George!…you Sonoma County supportet!

    4. April 10, 2012, 3:09 pm

      by ryank

      This is the terribly sad state of our county. As a former Lucas Valley Estates homeowner, I cannot imagine a better neighbor in most respects than LucasFilm. This effort must surely be the work of a handful of do-gooders standing loud and proud to represent the masses they cannot relate to.

      Who needs local jobs and tax dollars to fund schools, parks, and the environment anyway?

    5. April 10, 2012, 4:00 pm

      by Shari

      Build it in Santa Rosa…..We are in need of those type of businesses and jobs!

    6. April 10, 2012, 4:39 pm

      by Marianne

      Please bring your clean tech industry to Sonoma County! Give Lucas Valley Estates the next Pulp Mill to pay for their educational systems, trains and the highways that will be required to move Sonoma County workers straight through Marin to SF. So sad to see good businesses jerked around like this…

    7. April 10, 2012, 6:43 pm

      by andrew kolari

      it makes me sad that non native marinites can control the good overall that this could be,is like baseball at alberts park, NIMBY,I’m moveing out,what a bunch of idiots.

    8. April 10, 2012, 9:03 pm

      by Angela

      I agree that the anti-business attitude of Marin county will come back to haunt them.

      Maybe Grady Ranch should move north to Sonoma County. We have endured a lot of growing pains from the tech-boom-bust followed by the real estate meltdown and the seasonal fickleness of the wine industry to turn our backs on a large business that will add tons of new jobs in a creative field that continues to evolve and expand in spite of any economic cycle.

    9. April 10, 2012, 9:22 pm

      by Alexa

      Marin’s loss. Hopefully Sonoma County’s gain.

      Please come just a bit further north Mr. Lucas. You will be welcomed!

    10. April 11, 2012, 9:18 am

      by Laura

      My husband has worked for Lucasfilm for over 20 years. We both have been personally involved in the annual roadside cleanup day. Could all the trash ,car parts and other waste be generated all by the Lucasfilm employees? I think not. Way to go…another great loss to the Marin County. Yes, Sonoma County would love to have the business, jobs generated and tax revenues.

    11. April 11, 2012, 3:36 pm

      by Yosemite Sam

      What happened, 60s flower children of Marin? You sure did morph into self-absorbed NIMBY elites. Pathetic. You deserve to wallow in the putrescent mire of your own making. Ha ha!

    12. April 11, 2012, 3:39 pm

      by Catherine

      Yes, Sonoma County would welcome George Lucas and his digital movie studio. Not only do we have many great locational opportunites, the Sonoma County Airport serves Los Angeles making it that much easier for personnel to travel South. And let’s not forget all that Sonoma County has to offer including affordable housing, fabulous wines and great restaurants. We would welcome ths business, jobs and tax revenue that their production facility would bring. It is a shame that Marin County would turn away someone like Lucas Films although it’s not surprising. I’ve been told it’s nearly impossible to get any new development built in Marin. The loss of jobs and tax revenue will be felt for years to come. And yes, shame on them.

    13. April 11, 2012, 10:24 pm

      by Tim

      I would love it for Lucas to give the ranch to a native american tribe to be put into trust. Great spot for a casino, golf course, resort,, and no zoning or law suits allowed… YA!!

    14. April 13, 2012, 12:57 pm

      by Brad Bollinger, Business Journal Editor in Chief

      If Gov. Jerry Brown wanted to show leadership, he would arrive today at the Grady Ranch site with a shovel, stick it in the ground and say, “this project starts right now.”

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