by Diana Scott
retrospect, the Trust's "Request for Qualifications" (RFQ) for the Letterman complex seemed written with George Lucas in mind. The Trust's RFQ singled out companies involved in , "...biotechnology, multimedia, computer graphics, telecommunications, film production, Internet-based research and development, computer software, environmental science, and other high-technology, knowledge-based industries." Few except for the father of the Star Wars saga could score so many of those points.
Worse, the Lucas plan was an unabashed office park -- and probably one that would have tight security, given Lucas' famous secrecy surrounding his projects. Gone were any hopes for space devoted to nonprofits and museums.
The replacement buildings, a projected $200 million development, will contain a third of the park's nonresidential space and generate a quarter of its income. Privately held mortgage costs could have been offset by federally-funded rent subsidies, had the development included non-profit tenants (which it presumably won't, now that filmmaker George Lucas' Digital Arts Ltd. has been named preferred developer), with the length of the ground lease at least the duration of the mortgage, 35 to 45 years, on average, according to Executive Director James Meadows). Whether the mortgage holder (the "master tenant"), or the government will own the building, or will hold a 99-year lease, remains at this time unclear.
The sheer volume of space to be developed -- 900,000 square feet, or roughly two TransAmerica Buildings -- will have a tremendous impact on the park's appearance and ambiance. The winner takes all: its employees will have priority on housing leases in the park, displacing short-term interim tenants.
The projected timeline for developer selection at Letterman/LAIR was accelerated -- to say the least. The RFQ was issued August 14, 1998, and filmmaker George Lucas was selected in mid-June.
December 28, 1999 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor) All Rights Reserved. Contact email@example.com for permission to use in any format.
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