LucasFilm Pulls the Plug on Movie Studio Grady Ranch

LucasFilm says "enough is enough."

{Vote in our poll below.}

After several public meetings on the merits of its proposed digital studio in Lucas Valley, Skywalkers Properties LTD. decided to withdraw its application for the project.

"The level of bitterness and anger expressed by the homeowners in Lucas Valley has convinced us that, even if we were to spend more time and acquire the necessary approvals, we would not be able to maintain a constructive relationship with our neighbors," the company stated in a press release Tuesday.

The 270,000-square-foot production studio, known as Grady Ranch, . , and the

According to Skywalker Properties, several movie projects they planned to shoot on sound stages at Grady Ranch are already in production and they can't wait for an approval.

"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," the statement said.

Grady Ranch is one of three properties owned by filmmaker Geroge Lucas. The Skywalker and Big Rock ranches are located nearby the proposed Grady Ranch land. As the company grew, LucasFilm relocated the majority of their employees from Marin to San Francisco's Presidio due to the belief that Marin would not support the size of their facilities in a residential area.

The company managed to build Skywalker Ranch after a one year master plan approval and another year for the precise  development plan approval, but it took over 10 years for the county to approve the master plans for Big Rock and Grady ranches.

Many of the project’s supporters believe Grady Ranch would bolster economic growth by providing construction jobs now and high-paying technical jobs in the long term.

The Marin Economic Forum estimates that the withdrawal will result in a total of $216 million in lost revenue. The project would've created 690 jobs, with 463 jobs for the two-year construction phase.

"Every 100 employees hired by Lucas Company Productions to use within the new facility, there would be an additional 276 jobs created in Marin County," Marin Economic Forum interim CEO Robert Eyler told the Planning Commission in February.

"We're devastated," said Cynthia L. Murray, President of the North Bay Leadership Council. "LucasFilm is iconic and it's a tremendous loss to have them go elsewhere."

Challengers are not convinced that the economic boost would make up for the project’s scale and design, which some say is not consistent with the residential scenic area, or the potential environmental impact the project could have on the downstream of Miller Creek.

"We are surprised by Lucasfilm's announcement," the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association said in a statement. "There were clearly many factors involved in making this decision. We are sure that it was made with consideration for what is best for Lucasfilm."

Skywalker Properties plans to sell the land and revert it back to residential use.

"We love working and living in Marin," the statement said, "but the residents of Lucas Valley have fought this project for 25 years, and enough is enough.

What do you think about Skywalker Properties' decision to withdraw the application? Tell us below or on our Facebook page.

early whirly April 11, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I've driven by the Lucas gate on that road for years and I still have not seen any buildings or even anyone coming or going! At some point the needs of the many has to outweigh the needs of the few.
CLM April 12, 2012 at 12:06 AM
I understand very well the fervor you speak of, Mr. Plymouth...but I also see that you assume that your particular viewpoint/interpretation of that fervor is held by all "Marin residents." It is clear from the comments on this forum that many disagree with your interpretation. Your attempt to speak for "Marin residents," as if they are a homogeneous group, is inappropriate. Furthermore, it seems to me that Mr. Lucas has shown fervor for the 'feel' of the community, too, by bending over backward to ensure that his businesses fit in with the 'feel' of Marin...and he has contributed millions upon millions of dollars to that end. This is not Exxon Mobile, after all. This county cannot thrive without industry and jobs that contribute to the greater good of all "Marin residents"...and it seems to me that LucasFilm is exactly the kind of conscientious (environmentally and otherwise) corporate neighbor this county would welcome.
Carol April 12, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Tucker Murphy April 12, 2012 at 01:06 AM
I say boycott home sales in Lucas Valley but it sounds like they have devalued their properties all on their own.
Tina April 12, 2012 at 01:30 AM
I invite Lucas to rethink and reconstruct a Grady Ranch with a hip urban feel in the west end of downtown San Rafael. Our downtown needs revitalization badly. It could sprawl a few city blocks! Whadda ya say, George?
Maria Escobar April 12, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Birkenstock is a great idea! We need more high end jobs in Novato!
Maria Escobar April 12, 2012 at 05:02 AM
I heard the Novato City Council and Judy Arnold rarely respond to emails or calls. Perhaps you know something I and others don't ? Or do they just respond to the easy questions?
P. Lea April 12, 2012 at 05:15 AM
This decision is so short sighted and, not only very detrimental to our county, but a genuine embarrassment. George Lucas has been a loyal resident of Marin for decades and has done so much in the way of creating jobs, generating taxes, and supporting the community in innumerable, positive ways. His incredible Skywalker Ranch is revered around the world for it's professional excellence and gorgeous design. He has always been extremely sensitive and respectful of the environment and designed structures that are incredibly beautiful, unobtrusive and extremely sustainable. This selfish, stupid decision will hang over us for years and should be reversed immediately. The small-minded, minority group of Lucas Valley Estate members do not speak for the rest of us. Losing Lucas's digital arts center to San Francisco was bad enough! Let's learn from our mistakes and not persecute someone who is such a vibrant, positive force in our community.
Sylvia Barry April 12, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Marla said one of the homeowners is Monahan of Monahan Pacific. Interesting to see what his company does. http://www.monahanpacific.com/about.html I heard today that Lucus bought this piece of property before Lucas Estate was developed, and now they are objecting to his existence? Yes, please find a good place for Lucas Film in Novato - We would welcome you - now about that 800+ acre of land behind San Marin High School off Novato Blvd going toward Stafford Lake? It seems to be a gorgeous piece of property and if anybody can develop it, George Lucas could.
Tina McMillan April 12, 2012 at 08:24 AM
Maria That is not the case. Most of my emails have been questioning decisions made by the council and the supervisors and still, I have had prompt, respectful replies. We may not agree on the issues, nor do I necessarily manage to change anything (for example the Novato city offices going downtown without parking for the merchants and at an exorbitant cost) but I believe the Novato City Council is making an effort in the direction of rebuilding a relationship with the community. I also believe the community must make a greater effort to participate in local government. Check out the website for Novato Community Alliance. Its focus will be local government, housing, transportation and public safety; in other words strong neighborhoods where residents voices can be heard. http://www.nca4bh.org/
Tina McMillan April 12, 2012 at 08:36 AM
Sylvia Interesting, Monahan is both a high end and an affordable housing developer. The AH must be for tax credits to offset the high end. The Marin County affordable housing developments are: Drake's Way, http://www.monahanpacific.com/drakes_way.html, and 33 North, http://www.monahanpacific.com/33_north.html. If Monahan is pushing Lucas out in favor of home development as some posts have implied then this is hypocrisy at its worst. It would be helpful to know more about Monahan's role. By the same token Lucas Valley's loss could be Novato's gain. Let's hope our council and supervisors make a concerted effort to let Mr. Lucas know he would be welcome here.
Sylvia Barry April 12, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Hi Jim - the only reason why I even know about that parcel is because the parcel is for sale and I saw the sign posted when driving by. If that's going to happen, then rather than just have anybody buy and build on that hill, why don't we have somebody like Lucas, whom from what I read here and other places, would be an environmental sensitive, responsible owner of the land. If that assumption is not true, than all the comments here are all false and for nothing. So, with a choice given for the potential use of that land, I would rather have Lucus on that property than anybody else. Although I am a Realtor, I have a feeling that Lucas has his own real estate arm to help him negotiate the deals. I don't see $$$ in my pocket for this. So, I think we should go back on task on how to keep Lucas here, or better yet, attract Lucas to Novato.
Roger April 12, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Let's put a banning across Delong as you enter Novato saying, "George Lucas, please come to Novato."
mark April 12, 2012 at 04:21 PM
sierra if the link you provided is of such importance to you and the rest of us, why are you spending your time on here responding to things like this that don't mater to you. when there are other things that you feel are more important. why not just focus your energy on those things. And yes they both withdrew their proposals because they probably felt attacked and when people start to threaten your life and your families life, why contribute to that. a good portion of People are idiots and don't know how to express themselves with any kind of self respect. George lucas is a nice man, gives back to his community and should not have been treated the way he was , for that matter nobody should be treated like he or phil Lesh was. people might not agree but they dont have to be A%^&&les about it!! Off my soap box
mark April 12, 2012 at 04:31 PM
craig your so right but as Ken Kesey once said "In any given situation there will always be more dumb people than smart people. We ain't many!" I'll leave it at that. Thank you George for tearing down that old building on the property you own in San Anselmo and Building a garden in it's place.
Sierra Salin April 12, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Agreed Mark, and likely because it is and we are all connected. Most of us consume away, ignorant of of what destruction we are causing elsewhere, and living somewhere between struggling to make a buck to pay the bills with every waking moment, or trying to keep what we have for ourselves, and fearing life. None of this other stuff really matters, if we destroy the environments which sustain us all. This planet is just too small. Yes, WE, can. And how do we awaken and change. Nimbyisim is just not productive, when what we "need" is committed and educated humans with heart and brains willing to ensure a healthy future, and not just big houses with a Prius, and jetsetting around the glob(e) How about N.O.O.P? Not On Our Planet. No Nukes, No Fracking, No Endless Wars, No G.M.O's, No bs. Take a clear look around, business as "usual" is not a good survival tool.
Scott April 12, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Yet another example of people abusing environmental laws for their own, selfish, issues having nothing to do with the environment. Keep this up and it's only a matter of time before those laws get scrapped.
D-Man April 12, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Hey George, Please set up your studios at Hamilton Field!
Bill N. April 12, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Tina, my post was a snippet of the email I sent to the city council, and later to the county supervisors. I called Eric Lucan and found out he had already contacted Lucas FIlms! I do think there are larger political agendas behind the forces that opposed Grady Ranch. If any Novato proposals get traction with Lucas Films, that political agenda should be clearly recognized so it can be dealt with head on and with appropriate legal funds in the proposal and budget.
valeri hood April 16, 2012 at 08:45 PM
19. Why didn’t the project go ahead? Applicant concluded that it was infeasible (as they knew in Dec.) due to the State and federal regulations and conditions. 20. Has the Board of Supervisors disqualified itself from approving Grady Ranch by privately taking a public position for the Applicant’s proposal? Yes, but they can say to their constituents that they tried; in doing so they have disqualified themselves from voting on the appeal and may have jeopardized their ethical records and violated several laws. Individual Supervisors have also incorrectly placed blame on individual neighbors and neighborhood associations and regulatory agencies performing due diligence at normal speeds *In addition the Grady Ranch does not have a water supply, is outside of the MMWD service area and may be dependent on the Desalination Plant if ever built.
valeri hood April 16, 2012 at 08:46 PM
13. Does S. F. require employers of more than 20 people to pay a living wage and offer health insurance? Has Lucasfilm outsourced to Singapore its major operations? Yes. 14. Has Lucasfilm withdrawn its application at the Community Development Agency? No, not as of this writing according to the County personnel at the CDA on Thursday, 4/12/12. 15. How much dirt was planned to go into Miller Creek? 68,000 cubic yards of untested, unstudied soils 16. Was Applicant engaged in a disallowable parallel review of environmental impacts with State and Fed agencies, unbeknownst to the Co. of Marin? Yes. 17. Did nearby neighborhood organizations ever threaten litigation, express rancor or bitterness? No. At their own expense, they provided 50 pages of expert analysis of the CEQA requirements. 18. Does a County practice of exceptionalism promote stability and future capital investment in Marin? No, capital investors require stability and predictability
valeri hood April 16, 2012 at 08:46 PM
8)Was there a massive landslide above the building site? Yes, the building site just below the alluvial "fan" and on the aquifer, just 9 miles from the San Andreas Fault according to Lucasfilm experts. Yes, the building site just below the alluvial "fan" and on the aquifer, just 9 miles from the San Andreas Fault according to Lucasfilm experts. 9)Is the proposed building of 263,000+ sq. ft. feasible if the excavated soil has to be trucked offsite? No, according to Lucasfilm representatives 10)How many elements of the current proposal were not included in the 1996 Master Plan, nor evaluated as required under the California Environmental Quality Act? With the change in use to industrial zoning: 7. A. Operating hours no longer 9a-5p, but 24/7. B. Heavy truck traffic not evaluated though the road is inadvisable for trucks over 40 feet. C. Outdoor stage. D. Wine cave. E. Artificial knoll height. F. Downstream impacts of major alteration to Miller Creek. G. New height of building (eight and one-half stories) mandated massive excavation and 50’ retaining wall. 11)Has George Lucas retired from creating major motion pictures? Yes, according to the January 18, 2012 issue of the U.K. Guardian interviews.12)What % of the Letterman Digital facility in S. F. is occupied by Lucasfilm or affiliates? 10% or less.
valeri hood April 16, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Interesting letter: GRADY QUIZ: 1)What is the property zoned for? Planned Residential, 1 unit/ 1 acre to 1 unit/10 acres; RMP-0.031, Residential Multiple-family Planned District, 1 unit/ 32 acres maximum density and RMP-0.379, 1 unit/ 2.64 acres for Big Rock and Grady Ranch. 2)What category of zoning is a film production studio? Industrial 3)What year did the nearest subdivision begin? 1986 4)What year did the Lucasfilm /Skywalker Master Plan vest? 1996 5)How much square footage would be allowed at Grady Ranch, if approved? 456,000 sq. ft. at Big Rock & Grady Ranch (only the Marin County Civic Center would be larger or the Buck Center can compare). The first building would have been more than 263,000 sq. ft. (~ 3 Costcos). 5)456,000 sq. ft. at Big Rock & Grady Ranch (only the Marin Co. Civic Center would be larger or the Buck Center can compare). The first building would have been more than 263,000 sq. ft. (about 3 Costcos). 6)Was the nearest neighborhood ever notified of the project by the Applicant as required? No. 7)How many federally-protected salmon creeks are on the property? 7) 2 of the 3 Creeks (Miller, Grady and Landmark) are federally-protected salmonid waters.
Sierra Salin April 19, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Terrapin in Fairfax was too large a project, as proposed, and it is better situated in San Rafael, where it is. I too would have loved to see a scaled version of Terrapin in Fairfax, which would have had many community benefits, and the venue as proposed was just too big and impactful. Lesh chose not to go through the process, with the town, which is a different creature from the neighbors complaints, which may or may not have been mitigated, and anyone moving into a neighborhood next door to 2 grocery stores, and a busy S.F.D. should expect some level of noise and traffic. Bottom line, how are any of us living, and what are we contributing or giving back to the future, or are we just entitled and demanding consumers?
jim ringseis April 26, 2012 at 07:03 AM
Why have the names of the Lucas Valley Estates Board been removed from their homepage, and why are they not listed anywhere?
Sierra Salin May 14, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Here we go. George Lucas Does Something Likeable For a Change: Revenge on Rich Neighbors....http://www.movies.com/movie-news/george-lucas-grady-ranch/7883
Kevin Moore May 15, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Monahan was trying to get the Affordable Housing requirement moved from his development in Loch Lomand to his 33 North. That shift would have made 33 North have a very high percentage of Affordable Housing units. The point of affordable housing is to integrate all income levels, not concentrate them.
Kevin Moore May 15, 2012 at 03:14 PM
That would be a win-win.
Kevin Moore May 15, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I wonder how many people posting here actually read the EIR report? How much is "gut reaction" vs careful study? I skimmed through it. Marin needs high paying jobs and this would have been a huge win for Marin, but movie studios and high tech workers are notorious for working late into the night. Not to mention the need to truck in supplies. As a counter, I will say that in my many trips down Lucas Valley, I rarely see a car or truck pulling into Big Rock Ranch or Skywalker ranch. EIR's are the weapon of choice if you want to stop any project in Marin. I hope they get used to counter ABAG's hybrid recommendation / mandate for more housing in Marin and Sonoma. Huge issues like water, sewer, and other infrastructure seem to be glossed over. Focusing on projected population growth, job growth that is counter to the 2010 census report, and the transportation problems.
Stacey December 26, 2012 at 10:41 PM
I am so torn on this one. George Lucas has been a good neighbor in Marin, and the flat out slap in the face the Lucas Valley homeowners have dealt him really sucks eggs. They don't want a carefully planned, environmentally sensitive, job-producing expansion of the studio near their homes? Now they're going to have lots of traffic-generating housing projects built there, private spaces that they will not be able to hike through anymore. Serves them right, closed-minded fools... but the other people in the area who wanted the Lucas plans to go through are going to see their daily lives negatively impacted by the additional homes and traffic and congestion. These are negative impacts on their lives that would have been avoided if those selfish noisy few would have had a little more foresight. Now it's done, they've alienated Lucas, and they've ruined the quality of life for the people currently living there. The good thing is that Marin is indeed in sore need of more low income housing, and George has decided that is the use to which his holdings will go. Well, good luck Lucas Valley residents; a few short-sighted, selfish neighbors created this situation, and I hope you'll be happy with it. And, by the way, George, thank you for saving Amazing Grace Music.


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