The Moorpark City Council unanimously voted Wednesday night to allow the development of the Moorpark West Movie Studio to move forward. A final development agreement will be considered by the council at its Oct. 19 meeting.
The 559,450-square-foot studio complex could be completed in as little as three years, according to Valerie Draeger, president of Triliad Development, Inc., which filed the project’s application on behalf of Los Angeles Avenue, LLC. She estimated design completion and permitting could take about a year and a half and construction could take another year and a half.
The planned development will consist of 12 sound stages, three office buildings, 18 studio support buildings and parking areas on a nearly 44-and-a-half acre lot. The site is located on the north side of Los Angeles Avenue west of Gabbert Road.
The project would also include widening Los Angeles Avenue and other improvements including a stoplight on Los Angeles Avenue and the North Hills Parkway, which will be created as part of the project.
Though Wednesday's meeting drew a large crowd, only a few residents spoke.
Raymond Hebel, a Buttercreek area resident, asked the council to include a sound wall as part of the Los Angeles Avenue improvements. The Buttercreek area is located across Los Angeles Avenue from the project site.
Another Buttercreek resident, Van Dixon, requested the city consider installing a traffic light at Buttercreek Road and Los Angeles Avenue.
Though a traffic consultant agreed getting onto and off of Buttercreek Road can be a challenge currently, he believes the new light at North Hills Parkway will help by creating a gap in traffic. As well, the developer has agreed to give funds toward creating a sound wall on the Buttercreek side of Los Angeles Avenue that will be at least eight feet tall.
Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Patrick Ellis spoke on behalf of the city’s business community.
“There are many positives to this project and you’ll see that, over time, those positives will grow and benefit the community at large,” he said.
Among the benefits Ellis listed were education collaboration opportunities between local schools and the studio; increased business opportunities for existing businesses in town; new businesses coming to the city and the creation of new jobs, both from construction of the development and permanent jobs once the project is complete.
Draeger said the developers anticipate about 400,000 hours of new construction jobs will be required to build the studio and approximately 120 full time jobs will be needed to run day-to-day studio operations. The customers who rent the sound stages will provide an average of 200 to 500 jobs and there will be another 300 job opportunities with the companies that rent the office space, she said. Draeger also said she expects the average salaries for these jobs will be higher than the average of those at a traditional industrial park.
Council members also gave their thoughts about the benefits the project will bring to the city before voting.
Council member Keith Millhouse expressed disappointment with the amount of time the project is anticipated to take due to the permitting process, but voiced approval for the project itself, saying the benefits of the project outweigh any detriments it might bring.
“I think ultimately, we will look back upon this as a crown jewel for the community,” he said.