Earlier today, the Metro Board of Directors voted to authorize the creation of a new strategic plan for the Universal City/Studio City subway station.
The station, which opened in 2000 as part of the final leg of the B Line subway, is one of just two rapid transit stops in the San Fernando Valley. It sits on the east west side of Lankershim Boulevard across from Universal Studios, and in close proximity to the 101, 134, and 170 freeways.
Due in part to its location near major freeways, as well as a lack of nearby infrastructure catering to pedestrians and cyclists, Universal City Station ranks as the B Line station with the highest reported car use. Its park-and-ride facility, which has capacity for up to 550 vehicles, sees 90 percent usage during peak transit hours, according to a Metro staff report.
While the park-and-ride facility may be the primary means of access to the station, the property is also described as one of Metro's "most significant and marketable joint development opportunities." In addition to Universal Studios, the 10.75-acre property is also located within two miles of both Warner Bros. Studios and Walt Disney Studios, and sits just north of the busy commercial corridors of Ventura and Cahuenga Boulevards.
The proposed strategic plan would seek to better connect the station with those surrounding employers and activity hubs, while also clearing the way for a future joint development at the property. Metro staff have recommended the addition of a new mobility hub, retail uses, and tourist amenities to the station, which if coupled with first-last mile improvements to nearby corridors, could improve access for cyclists and pedestrians.
The proposal also calls for the consolidation of the station's sprawling park-and-ride lot into a new structure at the site of a bus layover facility adjacent to the Hollywood freeway. This would in turn leave the majority of the property open for development. Metro anticipates that new revenues generated by a joint development would cover the cost of the garage's construction, based on similar real estate transactions in the surrounding area.
Any future commercial use at Universal City Station will require cooperation with NBCUniversal, which retains the right of first offer for any future development of the park-and-ride lot. The agreement, a provision of the sale of the land to Metro by NBC predecessor MCA, Inc. in 1994, has prevented the transportation agency from soliciting proposals for the site in the years since. However, the staff report indicates that NBC has recently "expressed a willingness to work with Metro in the interest of advancing joint development of the property."
Should NBC continue to work with Metro on a joint development for Universal City Station, it would not be the first time the company has considered expansion onto the property. In 2007, NBC submitted a proposal to Metro to redevelop the site with 1.15-million-square-foot office and production facility called Metro @ Lankershim Studios. That project, which would have included two high-rise office buildings, was scuttled following NBC's acquisition by Comcast in 2011.
More recently, NBCUniversal has broken ground on a 400,000-square-foot office campus directly across Lankershim Boulevard from the Metro station.