The Marin Community Foundation, backed by Lucasfilm, will study options for developing affordable housing at Grady Ranch.
Foundation CEO Thomas Peters said the foundation will bring in affordable housing developers to review numerous land use, geologic, watershed, traffic and related studies completed by Lucasfilm, which aborted plans for a huge film studio after neighbors complained about a project obscured from view but not far from their backyards.
Lucas, who expressed an interest in selling the land to affordable housing developers when he pulled the plug, "is thrilled to be working with the foundation," said Lynn Hale, Lucasfilm spokeswoman.
Liz Dale, president of the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association, shrugged off the latest development in the Grady Ranch saga, saying, "Our comment is no comment."
"That's their own thing and we wouldn't have any comment on it. ... It's their property," Dale added.
Brian Crawford, head of the county's Community Development Agency, noted that housing is not a new idea.
"Before the Lucasfilm proposal for Grady Ranch, the site and the adjacent community have long been planned for housing by the county's land use regulations," Crawford said. "If affordable housing is eventually included in a future development proposal, it would help us meet our housing goals."
Peters said the foundation is pleased that "George Lucas is seeing this as an opportunity to address one of the most critical issues in Marin County — making it possible for a broad range of individuals and families to afford to live in Marin.
"In many instances, this is housing for people who work in the county but can't afford to live here and for people who grew up here but who now cannot afford safe, secure housing in their home county," he said. "And we have always paid particular attention to the need for affordable housing by the county's expanding senior population."
Peters added: "We're excited about the possibility of creating family and/or senior affordable housing on Grady Ranch, and we're enormously grateful to Mr. Lucas and Lucasfilm for the opportunity to explore it."
Peters said Lucas has agreed to hand over studies and other data accumulated in his nearly two-decade quest to build film facilities on the site.
A film project was approved by the county in 1996, but when Lucas decided to proceed years later, he scaled it down by consolidating buildings and sought new permits. Neighbors who said they were unaware of the 16-year-old plan issued numerous complaints and hired a lawyer who advised officials a lawsuit was possible and that state regulatory agencies had concerns about a $70 million watershed improvement program. Lucas bailed out, saying he could not afford more delay, and indicated a desire to sell the ranch to housing developers.
Hale, the Lucasfilm spokeswoman, embraced the foundation plan.
"We are delighted that a prestigious organization such as the Marin Community Foundation is looking into the possibility of working with developers for Grady Ranch," she said. "The foundation has had a solid track record for over 25 years of helping in the development, rehabilitation and restoration of over 2,600 affordable homes in Marin."
Peters stressed the foundation wants to study all housing options available. No price for the land has been discussed, he added.
"Lucasfilm has some suggestions about how they would develop the land," Peters said. "They will make that available and we will bring in affordable housing developers to study it all.
"We're going to test it out."