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Solano County Eyes Lucasfilm's Grady Ranch Project

Solano County cities are hoping to lure the film company to their turf.

At the same time Lucasfilm withdrew all permit applications for it’s proposed digital studio known as Grady Ranch, other cities are busy luring the movie company to build in Solano County.

Despite an influx of support from Marin County residents urging filmmaker George Lucas to reconsider building Grady Ranch in Lucas Valley, the company announced that their decision is final. Since then, a petition on change.org has collected 720 signatures as of April 24, suggesting Mare Island in Vallejo as the best place for the project. Other locations that have caused a buzz include proposed location for the failed Dixon Downs racetrack in Dixon, and Benicia.

“I'm not at liberty to discuss the locations that we are considering right now,” Lucasfilm Communications Director Lynn Hale said in an email.

In an act that crushed all hopes that Lucas would reconsider his Marin County retreat, Lucasfilm recently withdrew all permits from state and federal regulatory agencies that would apply to creek restoration, the Marin Independent Journal reports.

Skywalker Properties Ltd. shocked Marin earlier this month for the 269,000-square-foot studio after meeting resistance from neighbors.

"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. So the question remains, where will they take their business?

Kristina Naughton believes that Vallejo would be perfect for the facility due to its central location and community of artists who would embrace a film studio.

“There are also many historic buildings that could be utilized in film making,” she commented on the petition website. “Lucasfilm coming here would be just the boost Vallejo needs for our struggling economy.”

Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan told the Fairfield Daily Republic that the project “would put any community that landed it on the international map.”

A representative from a production company contacted Dixon's Economic Development Director Mark Heckey to ask to be put in contact with the owners of the land where the racetrack project Dixon Downs would have gone if it would have been approved by voters.

Heckey however told the Fairfield Daily Republic that the person who called him was not able to say which production company wanted to come to Dixon.

Lucasfilm was discussing possible locations with at least two other agencies when Benicia recently fell out of the running, according to the Vallejo Times-Herald.

The . Soon after, a group of neighbors from the Lucas Valley Estates claiming that the Grady Ranch plans were not subject to full notice and review, is inconsistent with zoning requirements in the residential area and that the data provided by planners failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.

The Marin Board of Supervisors to review the state and federal regulatory process and any legal concerns when Lucas withdrew the application.

Grady Ranch is one of three properties owned by 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.

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.

Since the decision, Marin residents submitted several letters supporting the project.

“We’re very grateful for all the support we received,” Hale said. “But we’re moving on.”

Gary Erwin April 26, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Big diffrence between what you have in your home and what I'm discussing. I'm talking about dedicated, broadcast quality fiber connected directly to a provider PoP.
Gary Erwin April 26, 2012 at 04:00 AM
What I'm discussing is what is used in place of the large satellite trucks you see for Professional Broadcasts vs a small dish one might have on their home...though some of the terms might sound the same professionals know the diffrence.
Nancy Phelps April 26, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Those buildings would get torn down. They would not use the buildings schedule to be taken down and not even historic. They is plenty of space to build their building. The historic buildings are by the houses not near the north end. How closely did you look around?
Cynthia Sproule April 26, 2012 at 04:00 AM
On a positive note, Vallejo has the space, the moderate weather, the history, the proximity to water and freeways, and most of all a sincere and enthusiastic desire for this project. No need to bash other possible locations. They will pick what's best for them and we can only say we will welcome them with open arms!
Gary Erwin April 26, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Oh we all want them. I agree with you.... I'm just saying why deal with potential toxic problems when you can choose a nice clean parcel that is totally open and ready...no deconstruction, no EPA issues....just build and then open the doors....little muss hardly any fuss.
Gary Erwin April 26, 2012 at 04:22 AM
We have hundreds (300 possibly more if needed) of open acres ready for this project....how about Mare Island and Vallejo?
kiki April 26, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Wouldn't an EPA review still have to be dine in Dixon? What about city planning reviews?
Nancy Phelps April 26, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Lucas isn't google or facebook. They aren't hosting.
Nancy Phelps April 26, 2012 at 05:17 AM
The north end site on Mare Island is 157 acres. I doubt they need more than that in one location.
Nancy Phelps April 26, 2012 at 05:30 AM
Mare Island doesn't have gang problems. Have you looked or checked that out? We know our neighbors out here. Our neighborhood is very nice, safe and we love it. And my views of Mt. Tam aren't so bad either.
Gary Erwin April 26, 2012 at 12:47 PM
The Dixon property was a farm. Adjoining lots have been developed and gone through the process without a problem. The property was never a site of industrial process nor was it a milatary base. This property is clean and clear, ready to go.
Julie Lyons April 26, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Reasons to bulid at Mare Island: 1) close prox. to Marin, a reverse commute, 2) close prox to SF, 3) Mare Island touches three counties, 4) Private airport for corporate jets located within 5 miles, 5) The weather is superb, 6) potential for shooting film, many movies have already been filmed at Mare Island and in Vallejo due to the vast materials locally available, 6) Brownfield tax credits for corporations that bulid on old military site-this is huge! 7) Diversity of the people in Vallejo, this "ain't no Truman movie." 8) Huge local talent, artists, photographers, IT, union trades people, 9) Two universities Touro Medical and Cal Maritime both contribute to the atmosphere, 10) The great community of volunteers and folks that have donated hundreds of hours of their time to push the city forward through difficult times and now come together in a spirit of "We Can Do it" to convince Lucasfilm via website, and facebook pages to "bring Lucasfilm to Vallejo."
Gary Erwin April 26, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Julie you have a few goold points. Tell me about the tide line now and into the future? The sea levels are on the rise...The Dixon site can easily accomodate helicopters and the Nut Tree and Davis airports are within five min of the Dixon site.
Aaron April 26, 2012 at 04:55 PM
So, from all the comments, what I'm hearing is... People in the Dixon area think Dixon is the best place for the project.. People in Vallejo think Vallejo is best. Those opinions, even supported with the anecdotal observations won't make much of a difference. For the sake of your own community, do what you can to get this project. It will be huge for your local economy! And, George, if you are reading this, Gary is right. Dixon is a fantastic place to locate your project. I mean really, have you been to Vallejo? The choice is a no-brainer! (I'm just kidding my Vallejo-ite friends.)
Gary Erwin April 26, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Thank you Aaron. I was rased in Dixon and I've been a Stagehand for 35 years. I know that we have what it takes because not only is Dixon my home town but George is in the entertainment business. The Dixon site is perfect....
Eva May April 26, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Regardless of what all of you say, none of you will make the final decision. How about we just respect each other and stop relying on biased opinions. Of course Dixon residents will fight for Dixon, while Vallejo residents will fight for Vallejo (obviously). I am a visual effects artist living in Vallejo, and I have 2 jobs (one in San Francisco, one is Davis-- closer to Dixon) so I know how the travel is-- it's not that easy). However, in this industry it is crucial for studios to connect with each other hand in hand. I've had the privilege of meeting Mr. Lucas a few times and have collaborated with a few of his colleagues from ILM (Lucasfilm's Industrial Light and Magic) and let me just say that Mr. Lucas is VERY involved in his company. He will drop by the studio in his jeans and flip flops just to be involved with everyone. Considering that he lives all the way in Marin County, in this case Vallejo has easier access to THAT part of the Bay Area. I'm NOT saying Dixon isn't a good choice either, but Vallejo isn't a bad one either. In the end, NONE of us will be making the final decision. Residents from either city (Dixon or Vallejo) should just keep it cool, because getting overly-cocky won't do anything. It won't magically make a Lucasfilm studio appear in your city. Cheers!
Gary Erwin April 26, 2012 at 08:41 PM
We should not forget the past existence of Skywalker Sound South that was located in Santa Monica California. That facility was linked to the northern facilities via a fiber optic network. Anything being mixed or edited at one facility could be seen and heard at the other. The same could be accomplished from Dixon, again because all major carriers are routed through Dixon to headed to the East Coast. I think most people participating in this forum are aware that we do not have the final say. I have only written what I have as a way to que others into the advantages of Dixon over the other cities. Dixon did not have a chance to plan a presentation prior to being considered. I guess I could have called the Mayor each and every time a thought had occurred to me but in fact participating in this debate has given me the ability to see the other players hands. This project will change the face of the community that it sets down in for the better. I think it worth my time to make my points in hopes of giving my little town a chance to capture this project. You must remember what San Rafael was like prior to ILM. It really was not much different than Dixon. Is anyone of consequence reading our lively sparing here….yes.
Eva May April 26, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Well I do hope you realize that I am not going against you nor Dixon right? Yet, you pin-point every possible chance you get to defend Dixon. That's fine. As we all know, people are obviously going to defend their own city. Yes, you have every right to defend your city. Yes, it is absolutely WORTH every second to defend and support your city. But I just don't know why you are so defensive? I never said it was impossible for the SF studios to connect with the DIxon area if that's where the studio will be. After all, their location all the way in Singapore hasn't affected them in a bad way. Same goes with what you said about Skywalker Sound being in Santa Monica. No problems whatsoever. I never said it was impossible, so no need to get defensive over that. We get it. But you also have to understand that Dixon has the same equal chance of getting chosen over any other possible cities. You say it as if Lucasfilm has already started building the facilities in Dixon already. Nothing has happened yet, so for now, let's ALL keep it cool. ALL OF US. (Not just you.) Yes, we all have the right defend our city, but at the same time, we need to respect each other's equal chances.
Eva May April 26, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Regardless, someone like Mr. Lucas, he can easily travel from location to location, distance shouldn't be the main factor. Just a little thing I mentioned, but let me be clear that I AM NOT DISSING DIXON IN ANY WAY. Every candidate city has an equal chance. It may be Dixon. It may be Vallejo. It may be none of them.
Gary Erwin April 26, 2012 at 09:26 PM
What you may read as being defensive is just my way of keeping on point and brief. I’m not here to please you. I am here to make my points and to do it quickly. I’m not in the PR biz. Yes this project would be a great addition to your town or any other town. I’m here to get it into Dixon. I’m not a hired gun…just a guy that knows what is needed and has a vision on how to make it happen. I understand that distance is not that great of a factor…others did bring it up time and time again. Imagine what people thought when ILM settled into Northern California vs. Southern California….bet the same debate ensued….it’s won’t work…little did they know. What I have stressed all along is that Dixon possesses everything that is needed and that it needs no major work to start construction. It’s on solid secure ground that is clean and ready to build on. George will have the ability to buy and control more land in Dixon than any of the other proposed sites. This will give Lucas Film nearly unlimited expansion opportunities. Good luck to you all!
Eva May April 26, 2012 at 09:43 PM
You have good points! But regardless where they settle, a new facility means new jobs! So, I think it's a win-win situation. Wherever they may settle, you can count on me being one of those desperate artists applying for a spot within the company. And, if it happens to be all the way in Dixon, well then time to fill up my gas tank! ;)
Jim Coleman August 04, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Why would any such high tech business want to move to a community with a school district that only provides an API base of only 747 when it is just a few miles from UC Davis?
Gary Erwin August 04, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Jim Coleman Think....what was San Rafael like some 30 years ago? Dixon has many parallels.
Don White August 20, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Yes, more cows. Also: less hazardous waste, security requirements, lower crime rate, the same if not better access from I-80, easier access to international airport, a genuine desire for partnership, etc. Good luck, Dixon.
Gary Erwin August 20, 2012 at 06:02 PM
It is good to see that Morning View LLC can see what I was able to see in Dixon's potential. I've spent a great deal of energy trying to convience them of this.... Let's see what the future holds.
dean laing September 26, 2012 at 07:49 PM
No matter where it goes There always some crayzy tree frog person that will kill it because there not thinking how it would help thousand of humans but the dumb frog .
dean laing September 26, 2012 at 07:50 PM
No matter where it goes There always some crayzy tree frog person that will kill it because there not thinking how it would help thousand of humans but the dumb frog .
Debi Von January 06, 2013 at 07:35 PM
I'm a writer and have moved to a ranch in the dixon area I have found that being originally from Martinez people are more open minded and respect the opinion of others I find that dixon is a bit more closed minded and I've had to get used to their unfriendliness ways George Lucas has a creative mind far beyond years I don't think he will make his descisions through all this negative energy if I were to decide it would be where my energies flowed best the minute I climbed out of the car an artist has an inner voice that's what seperates us from the rest good luck
Greg Coppes January 06, 2013 at 07:42 PM
If this post is a sample of your writing skills, you might want to change professions.
Debi Von January 06, 2013 at 08:19 PM
Lol, and Dixon has spoken. Don't get me wrong I love dixon. But when they shot down the race track it was obvious that they don't want growth. which is fine for the farmers.

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