Grady Ranch, Lucas’ next local project, moves forward


Grady Ranch, the third installment of George Lucas’ Lucas Valley empire, will be a breathtaking fortress of production suites, guest cottages, screening rooms and lavish amenities. And in the fashion of his neighboring properties—Skywalker and Big Rock ranches—few outsiders will ever see it.

Final approval for the 269,701-square-foot digital production facility has yet to come from the Marin County Board of Supervisors, but it is, according to Planning Commissioner Wade Holland, all but certain. That is because the slated campus—presented in a recently released final environmental review—is a scaled-down version of the one originally approved in a 1996 master plan.

The final proposal nonetheless details a feat of modern engineering. The main, three-story building will stretch one and a half football fields and will be reinforced by twin cylindrical towers, jutting 85 feet into the sky.

Inside, employees and guests will have at their disposal multiple stages, screening rooms, a 4,381-square-foot café served by a 1,151-square-foot kitchen, 15 to 20 guest suites, a general store, a yoga room, and a fitness center.

Buried beneath their feet will be a 202-car parking garage with additional space for 24 bicycles.

And oenophiles will not want, thanks to a 4,000-square-foot wine cave and adjacent tasting room.

Trees, flowers, and nine bridges will dot the surrounding landscape, which will change markedly after the excavation and rearrangement of tens of thousands of cubic yards of earth into a sloping knoll to obscure the main buildings from public view. Excavated dirt will also be used to raise and restore Miller, Grady and Landmark creeks.

The blueprints also project state-of-the-art energy conservation appliances, including a geothermal heating system, solar panels, high-efficiency light fixtures and automatic daylight controls.

Eliminated from the 1996 master plan is a separate day care and recreational facility, separate guest cottages and fencing that could have obstructed wildlife movement. The main building has reduced in size, and nearly 2,000 fewer trees will be removed than were originally slated.

Since his first purchase in 1978, Lucas has amassed nearly 6,100 acres in Lucas Valley, all but five percent of which has been donated or designated for agriculture, open space and public hiking trails. His entertainment empire has swelled as well: Lucasfilm Limited now includes six subsidiaries—Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound and LucasArts among them—and four campuses spanning two continents and employing thousands.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss and recommend action on the final review to the Board of Supervisors at their regular meeting on Monday, February 27. Should supervisors approve the project, Lucasfilm representatives say construction will last between 18 months to two years.