NBCUniversal drops plans for studio complex

Plans to build a $750-million office and broadcast studio complex across the street from Universal Studios have been scrapped as NBCUniversal opts to keep its television operations on the famous lot.

NBCUniversal said Wednesday that it would create new studios for the Los Angeles bureaus of NBC News and Telemundo, and their local affiliates KNBC and KVEA, near the lot’s Lankershim Boulevard entrance.

The 150,000-square-foot broadcast facility will be built in a building formerly used by Technicolor for production and offices, NBCUniversal said. The new facility should open by late 2013.


The broadcast center replaces earlier plans to house NBCUniversal’s West Coast broadcast center at the former MetroStudios@Lankershim project atop the Universal City/Campo de Cahuenga Metro Rail station and later at Stage One on the Universal lot.

NBC was to be the anchor tenant of a 1.5-million-square-foot office and studio complex planned by Thomas Properties Group. In 2010, NBCUniversal said it would first build new studios inside Studio One, the former home of Conan O’Brien when he was hosting “The Tonight Show.”

At that time, NBCUniversal said it still intended to be part of Thomas Properties’ MetroStudios when the project was completed in 2014. On Wednesday, Los Angeles developer and landlord Thomas said the company would no longer pursue approval of its proposed project.

“While we are disappointed that the project is not in a position to proceed at this time due to the economic climate and its impact on the real estate market, we continue to have a strong working relationship with NBCUniversal,” Chief Executive James A. Thomas said.

NBCUniversal paid Thomas Properties a $9-million breakup fee for backing out of the deal, according to a public filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The studio wasn’t ready to announce who might move into Studio One, representative Cindy Gardner said. O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” reign lasted seven months and ended in January 2010. The space originally built in 1962 for Jack Benny has been without a signature tenant since then.

The scrapping of the planned MetroStudios development does not affect NBCUniversal’s plans for a $3-billion overhaul of Universal City known as the Evolution Plan, Gardner said. Thomas Properties will remain a real estate advisor to NBCUniversal.

Times staff writer Meg James contributed to this report.