A draft environmental impact report released this week by the Department of City Planning reveals a second redesign for a proposed expansion of the Hilton hotel at the front door to Universal Studios.

The hotel at 555 E. Universal Hollywood Drive, a well-known landmark to motorists on the nearby 101 freeway and visitors to the theme park, was built in 1983, and consists of a 24-story building featuring 495 guest rooms, amenities, meeting rooms, and subterranean parking.

Aerial view looking eastAnkrom Moisan

Since 2017, developer Sun Hill Properties has sought approvals to add 395 guest rooms to the complex, a move which would increase the total offerings of the Hilton to 890 rooms. Originally announced as a 15-story tower, a 2018 redesign pushed the height of the tower to 17 stories. The latest update once again tweaks the profile of the expansion, now calling for an 18-story, approximately 231-foot-tall tower.

“It’s been a long time coming, and we are thrilled to achieve this critically important milestone in our entitlement process, getting us one step closer to bringing this expansion to reality,” said Sun Hill Properties president and chief executive officer Mark Davis in a news release. “After over 30 years of serving Los Angeles and the greater San Fernando Valley, we owe these additional rooms to the region, as we prepare to host the 2028 Olympic Games and tourism numbers continue to rise.”

The redesign also comes from a new architecture firm, Ankrom Moisan, but retains familiar features from earlier iterations of the project, including its diamond-shaped footprint and plans for a rooftop pool. The project would also provide 460 new parking spaces, adding to an existing 652 stalls which exist on the site today.

Pending approval of project entitlements, which are slated for consideration by city officials in Spring 2024, construction of the Hilton Universal expansion is expected to occur over 30 months, starting in 2024 and concluding in 2027. Previously, work was anticipated to begin in 2023 and conclude in 2025.

Hilton Los Angeles Universal CityGoogle Maps

The project is one of three hotel developments which could be in the works at the Universal campus - NBCUniversal received approvals for the construction of up to two 500-room hotels as part of the NBC Universal Evolution plan in 2012.

A fourth project, a proposed expansion of the neighboring Sheraton Universal hotel was also in the works 2018, when owner Shenzhen New World Group submitted an application to add a 31-story, 551-room tower to the property. However, the project's entitlement request has since been withdrawn.

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