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DreamWorks Studio Plan Gets Glendale OK

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The City Council gave final approval Tuesday to DreamWorks SKG’s proposed 495,000-square-foot animation studio complex, after nearly a year of lobbying to bring the high-profile entertainment firm to Glendale.

Executives of DreamWorks--founded by entertainment giants Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen--said construction on the project is expected to begin early next year. By the time it is completed early in the next century, at least 1,000 people could be employed at the studio, which will be built on a 12-acre site known as Crystal Springs alongside the Los Angeles River, the studio officials said.

“It’s a historic day,” Glendale Mayor Sheldon Baker said. “The creation of more than 1,000 jobs--that is a big step in the life of any city. I think this is a major step forward in the health and viability of the city of Glendale.”

Acting in its capacity as the board of directors of the city’s Redevelopment Agency, the council unanimously approved an environmental impact report, plus other legislation allowing the studio to proceed with project construction.

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In celebration, DreamWorks executives said Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen will hold a public unveiling of the project Thursday morning at the site on Flower Street in the city’s San Fernando Road redevelopment corridor.

City officials say they hope the presence of such high-powered entertainment industry moguls will draw other entertainment-related firms to the area.

But they are also touting the deal that brought DreamWorks to Glendale, a deal that was completed in less than a year and that included no city payment toward any studio construction costs.

DreamWorks “realized early on that we are a modest redevelopment agency and we do not have a lot of money. Therefore we were able to negotiate things that were beneficial to both parties,” said Jeanne Armstrong, city director of development services.

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“We certainly did not take the approach that we were going to buy them in at any cost, as some redevelopment agencies do.”

DreamWorks bought the Crystal Springs property from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power last year for about $5 million. The deal between the studio and Glendale does include a $3-million investment by the city in a water-treatment plant that was to be built on the site and will now be erected on city-owned land next door.

The DreamWorks studio will have a Mediterranean theme and include seven buildings, a 1,000-space parking garage and interconnecting arcades, verandas and a central plaza. Animation for feature films and television, and other related products, will be produced there 24 hours a day, company officials said.

“What we’re trying to do is create an environment that allows the artists, who are the heart and soul of this project, to come together and create,” said Steven Ehrlich, an architect on the project.

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