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In The News

LucasFilm withdraws Grady Ranch studio project from Marin

It is with great sadness that Skywalker Properties has

decided to pull its application to build a studio facility

on the old Grady Ranch.

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.

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. Many

years ago, we tried to stop the Lucas Valley Estates

project from being built, but we failed, and we now have a

subdivision on our doorstep.

While we managed to build on Skywalker Ranch after one year

master plan approval and another year PDP approval, it took

over 10 years for the Master Plan approval on Big Rock and

Grady Ranches. It took us three years for a PDP on Big

Rock and now we are four years into trying to get a PDP

permit for Grady Ranch with no end in sight.

As the company grew we realized we needed more space than

what we were building in Lucas Valley at Skywalker Ranch,

and it could not accommodate the whole company. We then

worked to find more land on which to expand our corporate

headquarters, our video game enterprise LucasArts, and our

visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic. We were

told there was no way we would be able to build a facility

of that size in Marin County and therefore we moved the

majority of our employees from Marin to the Presidio in San

Francisco. We’ve had a great partnership with the Presidio

Trust and created a low impact facility which offers great

benefit to its surrounding community.

We then went back to Marin County with only the studio

facility that was previously approved in the Master Plan.

We have been trying for four years to get the Precise

Development Plan approved, but it appears that, as always

2

seems to be the case, the process will be delayed again for

more months or years.

We are not a real estate developer. We need the spaces we

build to do our work. Movies are waiting to be made, and

we must move forward. Unfortunately, the projects we had

planned to shoot on those stages have already started

production and we will need the studio space by early

2013. 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.

When we first proposed Skywalker Ranch in 1978, we

understood people’s concerns about a business moving to

residential area. They feared helicopters landing with

celebrities and tour buses coming down Lucas Valley Road.

None of their fears materialized. Over 5,000 acres were

permanently preserved with an 11 mile hiking trail, all the

buildings are hidden from the road, the pond and ranch

restoration created an area for wildlife to thrive, and

over 8,000 trees were planted. Lucasfilm provided fire and

rescue aid to the community and boosted Marin’s economy by

hundreds of millions of dollars and provided employment to

its residents. After Skywalker Ranch was completed, our

neighbors praised us and the County continually used us as

an example of how best to develop. We were one of the first

large employers certified as a Marin County “Green

Business.”

We realize our solution to creating open space by placing

low-impact commercial facilities on farmland, while

permanently preserving over 95% of the total acreage, has

not been accepted by our neighbors. Nor are they or many

of the public agencies interested in the $50-70M

restoration of the stream. Maybe we’re ahead of our time.

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.

 

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