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Agency OKs expansion of DreamWorks site

Next week council is expected to approve a 93-foot-tall building at campus on Flower Street.

April 23, 2008|By Jason Wells

CITY HALL — A proposed expansion of the DreamWorks Animation campus on Flower Street sailed through the Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday, paving the way for the studio to fulfill the majority of its remaining square footage allowed in a 1996 development agreement.

The 128,718-square-foot plan would add to the 331,783 square feet of existing area at 1000 Flower St. and extend the multilevel parking garage to provide an additional 265 spaces.

An ordinance that would amend the original agreement to let DreamWorks take advantage of a 2004 zoning change and construct a higher-than-previously-allowed building was introduced as part of an approved package of environmental and design items and won’t take effect until next week, when the City Council is expected to officially adopt the amendment.

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“I’m looking forward to the project and hope it goes quickly,” Councilman Frank Quintero said.

DreamWorks is eager to begin work on the 93-foot-tall building, with five stories above ground and one below, as it coalesces its animation business around the Tuscan-style campus and integrates operations, spokeswoman Jennifer Lin said after the meeting.

“The style of working is different now,” she said.

Jeffrey Haber, an attorney representing the studio through the development process, has said DreamWorks is reaching capacity at its current site and could have the addition completed by the end of next year.

Once the ordinance amending development agreement is officially adopted next week, DreamWorks will be unconstrained by the 65-foot height limitation in the 1996 contract, which was established under the old zoning code.

An environmental consulting firm for the studio concluded the increased shadow of the taller building would create a significant impact to what is already a largely industrial and commercial area.

Other project elements, including an extension of the south parking lot and its employee-only access gate were also determined to have less-than-significant impacts with the addition of street signage and road barriers on Flower Street preventing entrance and exit to northbound traffic.

With just three members in attendance, the Planning Commission on April 2 narrowly recommended approval of the amended development agreement and proposed expansion in a 2-1 vote. Commissioner Richard Ramirez had expressed concerns that the environmental studies for those improvements were inadequate and was the lone dissenting vote.

At 93 feet tall, the proposed building would still be far shorter than the allowed 175 feet, or 10 stories, in the rezoned area, according to city reports.

After the expansion is completed, 34,499 square feet will remain as part of the development agreement with the city, which is good through 2011. Haber said a third building phase could come at a later time, but that the studio was currently focused on the proposal now on the table.

“We’re going to take this one step at a time,” he said.

Even with the amended agreement, DreamWorks must still go through the usual design review and planning process, city officials said.


 JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.

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