Saturday, January 15, 2011

James Cameron's New Studio Could Come to Agoura

Known for feature films spanning Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Titanic, and Avatar, James Cameron's production company may be moving into a studio site in the business park district of Agoura Hills.

In a unanimous vote Wednesday, the Agoura Hills City Council approved an agreement to have Rincon Consultants prepare an environmental study for the construction of a motion picture studio for Lightstorm Entertainment at 29901 Agoura Road.

The property owned by Realty Bancorp Equities, which includes the former Line 6 building, standing at 38,000 square feet, will be replaced by a proposed 52,000-square-foot, 54-feet high studio, according Doug Jacobsen, an executive with the company. Jacobsen anticipates the demolition of the Line 6 building some time in late March, early April.

Almost the size of a football field, the new building will house 80 to 200 occupants, according to the production company's Jan. 4 letter to the Agoura Hills Planning Commission.

Lightstorm's proposed building will be used by producers, directors, actors, and other production personnel for digital filming activities, according to the proposal. The space will also feature a commisary, gym, and exterior break areas for employees.

On Jan. 20, the Planning Commission will be reviewing Realty Bancorp Equities' request to be considered within the permitted Business Park-Manufacturing (BP-M) zone, which is designated for larger scale businesses involved in light manufacturing, assembly or distribution, and requires operations conducted indoors, with equipment vehicles parked on-site.

"Staff finds the BP-M zone to be the most conducive zoning district in the city for this [the studio's] use," reported city staff in a preliminary analysis. If approved, the project would not require an amendment to the zoning ordinance.

Mayor Pro Tem Dan Kuperberg is concerned about the possible landscaping and height of the proposed building, but is optimistic.

“This studio could be a tremendous asset to our community—economically, environmentally, and could establish Agoura Hills as a destination for these kinds of projects, specifically within the film and television industry,” Kuperberg said. “The studio will bring good jobs and probably have limited impacts on our infrastructure."

No public hearings have been scheduled at this time. The Agoura Hills Planning Commission will meet on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers to discuss Realty Bancorp Equities' request.

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