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Universal Hilton planning huge 15-story expansion

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But Universal Studios officials aren’t happy with the project

Rendering of new Universal Hilton tower
The project would add 356 guest rooms, a spa, and new restaurant space to the hotel.
Rendering courtesy Visualhouse

Editor's Note: This post was originally published December 21, 2017, and has been updated with the most recent information.

The 24-story Universal Hilton, which has towered over the San Fernando Valley for more than 30 years, could soon get a major addition that would add a second structure to the hotel.

Plans filed with the city of Los Angeles yesterday call for a new 15-story tower that would rise right next to the existing building, adding 356 guest rooms to the hotel.

The proposal comes just a year-and-a-half after the opening of a new Harry Potter-themed expansion to the Universal Studios theme park right next to the hotel. Mark Davis, the hotel’s general manager tells the Los Angeles Times that business has been booming since the park’s new addition opened.

But NBCUniversal, which owns the the theme park, isn’t so happy with developer Hillcrest Real Estate’s plans for the hotel. In a statement, the company says that plans for the project should have been cleared with them before they were submitted to the city, and that the new development may be too big for the neighborhood.

“Our key priority is to make sure that any development is compatible from a scale, density, traffic and other impacts standpoint,” the statement reads. “We understand the currently proposed project substantially exceeds what is allowed by current zoning.”

But Davis says that Hillcrest tried to work with NBCUniversal on the plans over the past two years, and that the media giant “cannot unreasonably withhold its consent.”

With negotiations between the two parties evidently at a standstill, Hillcrest “has taken the next step and filed our development application with the city,” says Davis in a statement.

NBCUniversal’s criticisms of the project come less than 10 years after the company announced plans for a massive development around the park with housing, new retail and studio space, and a 500-room hotel.

After a host of community objections, the company dropped plans for the housing component, but may still be hoping to develop a hotel near the park. As Theme Park Insider points out, the company has partnered with Loews to develop hotels near its Orlando theme park.

If the Universal Hilton expansion moves forward as planned, it will also include 8,000 square feet of restaurant space and a 10,120-square-foot spa, according to the plans filed Wednesday.

But even if NBCUniversal gets on board with the project, it would still take a while for all those new features to arrive. The major development will need to go through a lengthy environmental review process before construction can begin.