NBCU Gets County Permission to Begin $1.6 Billion 'Evolution Plan'


NBCUniversal moved a step closer to realizing its plan to build The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at its Southern California theme park as well as to making massive improvements and additions to the film studio when the county board of supervisors voted in favor of the plan Tuesday.

Having received permission from the city last year, the conglomerate’s so-called “Evolution Plan” just needs to clear some procedural hurdles and construction could begin as early as late summer.

Initially, NBCU will spend $500 million on the Potter attraction and other initiatives, but eventually the 25-year plan calls for $1.6 billion in construction and improvements, including the possibility of two 500-room hotels and more parking. At full build-out, the theme park will have grown by 327,000 square feet and the studio by 1.45 million square feet.

The company says, though, that the 391-acre Universal City property will not expand as a result of the improvements.

NBCU says the Potter attraction will be located in the upper area of the theme park, presumably necessitating the closing of the Gibson Amphitheatre, a concert venue that seats 6,200 people. Originally known as the Universal Amphitheatre, the venue opened in 1972 with a production of Jesus Chris Superstar.

 A spokeswoman Tuesday would not confirm the shuttering of the Amphitheatre.

The plan also has NBCU funding road expansions, a bike path and other measures, such as landscaping, to enhance neighboring communities.

“After nearly a decade of work on the Evolution Plan, today’s vote sets the stage for our next 100 years in Los Angeles,” said Universal Studios COO Ron Meyer.

The Potter attraction is a collaboration between Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts and is expected to be similar to the one that opened in 2010 at Universal Orlando in Florida.

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