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.
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The partnership marks the first concrete action after Mr. Lucas’ real estate arm, Skywalker Properties, proposed affordable housing on the site in a public letter following the discontinuation of the proposed studio in April.
Land and engineering studies conducted through the studio project process will be made available to the foundation, which will then judge the feasibility of affordable housing on the site, according to Dr. Thomas Peters, foundation president and chief executive officer.
“To have that head start will be enormously valuable,” he said.
Lucasfilm withdrew plans for the long-anticipated studio amid intense opposition from some residents in Lucas Valley. Some interpreted the affordable housing proposal in Skywalker Properties' letter an affront to opponents of development there.
Yet Dr. Peters said he is confident George Lucas is sincere about the idea, which points to a growing need for affordable housing in the county.
“We are delighted that a prestigious organization such as the Marin Community Foundation is looking into the possibility of working with developers for Grady Ranch,” said Lucasfilm spokeswoman Lynne Hale in a statement.
The Marin County Board of Supervisors supports the collaboration, according to a joint statement issued today.
“I’m looking forward to learning about Mr. Lucas’ latest vision for his property in conjunction with the foundation,” wrote Supervisor Susan Adams, whose district includes Lucas Valley. “As with any development, we’re ready to hear more and work together on this.”
Board President Steve Kinsey wrote that the supervisors are "very interested" in project ideas from the collaboration.
“Lucas has been a steward of the land and a great contributor to the community,” wrote Mr. Kinsey.
Mr. Peters noted that the collaboration is in a very early phase, but pursuing opportunities for affordable housing development in the county remains a high-priority goal of the foundation. In addition to addressing the needs of Marin workers who cannot afford to live in the county, Marin also faces a steadily growing population of seniors with limited incomes.
“We’re already by proportion the oldest county in California,” Dr. Peters said. That trend, he added, is likely to continue.