By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene@email@example.com
7:38 AM PST, February 22, 2013
NBCUniversal is addressing some concerns raised about its proposed $1.6-billion expansion by agreeing to fund traffic mitigation efforts in Burbank neighborhoods near the project and close a missing link in the Los Angeles River bike path.
Burbank officials announced during a City Council meeting Tuesday night that the studio has offered $150,000 over the next three years — no strings attached — to help the city minimize traffic spillover into neighborhoods as the media giant prepares to construct a 2.6-million-square-foot development that will include new studios, theme park attractions, retail space and two hotels.
The money will be distributed in three $50,000 installments, with the first one to be paid after Los Angeles County officials sign off on the expansion and the studio receives its first building permit.
The funds are unrelated to the $3.6 million NBCUniversal will be required to spend on traffic improvements for major intersections in Burbank near the project, which was required as a result of the project’s environmental impact report.
City officials — who will be responsible for executing the mitigation measures — have not yet pinpointed neighborhoods or specific improvements, but some ideas floating around include implementing permit parking, installing speed bumps, putting up signage or constructing curb extensions, said Community Development Director Joy Forbes.
“This is incredible that they decided to make this offer,” Forbes said Wednesday. “We're obviously going to work with neighborhoods to find a good use for these funds.”
Additionally, NBCUniversal has agreed to extend the Los Angeles River bike path from Barham Boulevard to Lankershim Boulevard, which means bicyclists will be able to pedal directly from downtown Los Angeles into the San Fernando Valley and Burbank’s bike-path system.
The studio will throw in $3.75 million to fund the extension.
Burbank officials were also pleased to learn that NBCUniversal is not permitted to convert the 1,000 hotel rooms it plans to build into condominiums in the future, according to regulations tied to the project.
“That's certainly something I don’t think any of us wanted to see happening,” said Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy during the council meeting.
The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission is slated to review the expansion proposal Feb. 27.