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
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
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.