Lucasfilm officials said today that plans to convert filmmaker George Lucas’s failed Grady Ranch production studio into affordable housing will not change despite Walt Disney Studio’s acquisition of the production company.
Since Disney’s announcement of the $4.05 billion deal earlier this week, many Marinites have speculated about Disney’s interest in the Grady Ranch land located off Lucas Valley Road. Lucas, who lives in San Anselmo, retained ownership of all his Marin properties, including Skywalker and Big Rock ranches, and the plan to make the Grady Ranch land affordable housing will not change, said Lucasfilm representatives.
Disney told the San Francisco Chronicle that they plan to leave Lucas employees in their San Francisco and Marin locations, despite that the entertainment giant's headquarters are in Southern California.
Marin Supervisor Susan Adams told the Chronicle that Disney could revive the Grady Ranch project if they bought the 3,400 acres from Lucas since most of the permits and environmental documents are already in place. Since Lucas retained ownership, it’s not likely that will happen.
“Not much is changing with site use in place already or with the discussions on the future uses at Grady,” Adams said in an email.
The Grady Ranch plan involved building a 269,000-square-foot film studio, which was approved in 1996, but Lucas Valley neighbors raised complaints at the beginning of 2012 when the company sought permits to begin building.
While the Marin County Planning Commission approved the project in February, Lucas stunned the county when they decided to pull his permits and applications for the project after homeowners in the area filed an appeal against the commission's decision.
Skywalker Properties, Ltd. said that the opposition from neighbors was too great to continue with project in a timely manner.
"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," Skywalker Properties said in a statement in April.
The motion picture company also met resistance from the California Water Board over the a reduction in creek fill from the construction as well as coordinating an new environmental review.
Since the application was pulled, Lucas approached Marin Community Foundation to build affordable housing on the site, which was part of the county’s original plans for the land before Lucas purchased it. Under the current zoning, the 236-acre property could fit 240 units of low-income housing. It could also fit a 48-home market-rate subdivision.
The foundation is currently looking for developers and hopes to make an announcement about the plans this fall.
Disney will receive rights to the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, Lucasfilm’s post production businesses, Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound and a suite of entertainment technologies. The company also announced that Star Wars: Episode 7 is expected to be released in 2015 and they plan to release one film every two to three years after that.