The “Hilton Universal City” is a 24-story, AAA 4-Diamond hotel located at 555 Universal Hollywood Drive in Universal City adjacent to the main entrance of Universal Studios Hollywood. In addition to its premier accommodations and location, the Hilton Universal City is known by many in the local community and greater Los Angeles area for its renowned business, convention and banquet facilities, along with the popular Café Sierra best known for its prime rib, seafood buffet, and Sunday brunch.
The project includes the construction of a new 20-story building with 395 guest rooms, new restaurant and bar areas, new outdoor pool areas, and a spa limited to guests and 250 non-guest members. Added project features to serve visitors and guests include a one-story addition to the ancillary hotel building consisting of a 5,000-square-foot Junior Ballroom, 10,000 square feet of meeting rooms, an expansion of the existing subterranean parking garage with mechanical stack parking for team members and valet use, a revised surface parking program, a new entry driveway, and landscape and hardscape improvements.
Yes. Effective 2021 and renewed upon request annually we will offer:
- Free parking annual passes for self-parking
- 10% Discounts on Food Purchase including Holidays
- 10% off the Best Available Rate for rooms
And when the new hotel opens in addition to the above amenities we will offer:
- First choice for Spa Members to include discounts on treatments
- 10% discount for Pool Cabana’s lower level pool
The project is being designed with modern, linear architecture that will complement the existing hotel building, with a focus on creating a seamless hotel campus with two distinct buildings. The design goal is to create an aesthetically pleasing, completely independent, full-service hotel tower building that is architecturally integrated with the existing building and surrounding structures. Its unique upscale amenities and features will add to the existing full-service Hilton complex
Yes. The Hilton Universal City has historically maintained a high occupancy rate year-round. To better serve its guests, the hotel recently completed extensive interior renovations to the building, which was constructed in 1984. These improvements included significant renovations to all 495 guestrooms and suites and upgrades to Café Sierra, the Conference and Meeting Spaces, the lobby, and the lounge areas. Additionally, the existing hotel will feature an enhanced canopy arrival entry, improved pedestrian path to Universal Studios Hollywood, widened vehicle roadway, relocation of the valet arrival away from the arrival plaza, and distinct improvements to the arrival plaza between the existing hotel and new building.
The existing hotel building has 24 levels. The proposed addition has 20 levels. However, due to the sloping topography on which the new building will be constructed, the new structure will have several below-grade levels. In fact, the entry/lobby for the proposed building will be located on Level 3 of the building. When completed, the height of the expansion building will appear to be seven stories shorter than the existing hotel building.
No, the glass windows in the new building will not create glare and instead block as much as three-quarters of the glare emanating from the current building. The glare that occurs at present is a result of the mirrored glass specified for the current building in the 1980s. While very popular at the time, the industry no longer uses this type of glass because of its 100% reflectivity, and the City does not allow new buildings to install glass exteriors with such high reflectivity. The highest reflectivity allowed currently is around 20%, but the Hilton Universal City expansion will use glass with a much lower reflectivity, approximately 15%.
The city’s review process began in the summer of 2020. The Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the project’s environmental impact report was released in early October 2020. The review will study the project’s environmental impacts and include opportunities for the public to review all project reports and plans along with participating in public hearings before the City Planning Commission and City Council.
Construction is planned to begin in 2023 and is expected to take 2 years to complete. The plan is to have a single phase of construction. The construction team will ensure that no hauling takes place during popular calendared events at Universal Studios Hollywood, such as the Halloween Horror Nights.
As experienced hotel operators we pay attention to various cycles that impact our industry. Most forecasters are projecting 2.5 to 3 years for full recovery of pre-COVID numbers, but popular destinations for tourists are likely to recover faster than typical markets. The fact that Universal Studios Hollywood continues to create new feature additions to its theme park provides us great confidence in the recovery with sufficient demand to support our expansion. The timing could not be better for us to use this recovery period to prepare the room inventory needed to satisfy the growing demand for Los Angeles and Universal Studios Hollywood in the years leading up to the return of the Summer Olympics to Los Angeles in 2028.
The Hilton Universal’s Culinary team has already begun planning the anticipated changes necessary that will allow our popular buffet at Café Sierra to resume operations safely. When it does, it will return with a continued focus on quality and value and an added emphasis on safety. Our followers call weekly to check on the re-opening, expressing high interest to continue their family traditions of visiting the world-renowned prime rib and seafood buffet and brunch. We anticipate reopening by Thanksgiving at the latest if the LA numbers continue to improve.
Our plan is to continue the operations at the current facilities uninterrupted, with adjustments to be made during the construction process in order to minimize guest impact as well as impact to our neighbors, especially Universal Studios Hollywood.
Yes. Currently, there are a total of 652 vehicle parking spaces on the project site. The new Hotel Expansion Building would require 408 new vehicle parking spaces and the existing uses require 652 spaces, resulting in a new parking requirement for the project site of 1,060 vehicle parking spaces.
Yes. We will still utilize self-parking but will supplement the parking program with an expanded valet service and a special Uber/Lyft drop-off area. Two valet stations will be employed. One will serve the new north side ballroom and the second will serve the existing and new hotels.
Vehicles will enter the hotel property via the existing driveway along Universal Hollywood Drive and continue along the internal roadway until they reach the parking garage entrance. The parking garage entrance is located away from the main hotel driveway as to reduce potential conflicts with pedestrians.
Yes. The site is located within a Transit Priority Area as it is about a half-mile from the front door of the hotel to the Metro B (Red) Line Universal City/Studio City station. Metro’s Universal City/Studio City station is also served by many local bus lines. The Hilton Universal City currently offers transit subsidies to all employees and will continue to do so after the Project is completed.
The restaurant on Level 17 of the expansion building is anticipated to operate daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., with some flexibility for special events. The bar portion of the rooftop restaurant will generally be open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Out of respect and sensitivity to our neighbors, we will not allow any amplified music.
The project team is committed to continuing the hotel’s incorporation of green building design and sustainability features. The project is being designed with the California Green Building Standards and the City of Los Angeles’s Green Building Code in mind. Examples of potential design features that would contribute to energy efficiency include:
- HVAC systems that use ozone-friendly refrigerants;
- Use of high-efficiency appliances to save water and energy;
- Incorporating water conservation features; and
- Stormwater retention program.
Yes. The new building is shorter than the existing hotel building and other nearby buildings. The project will not block scenic vistas or features, nor will it significantly change the character of the view.
Yes. All traffic impacts and potential mitigations will be thoroughly studied in the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) according to the City of Los Angeles’ methodology.
No. The spa will be for hotel guests. We will also allow for a limited number of private membership opportunities.
The Hilton Universal City expansion will generate $6.185 million in tax revenues annually for the City of Los Angeles.
The expansion project will create 935 construction jobs and 220 new permanent jobs in addition to the Pre-COVID, 410 jobs at the existing hotel.
There is no direct relation. Comcast NBCUniversal’s “Evolution Plan” is an approved Master Plan for the expansion of their theme park, which could include new hotels, office space, and commercial retail. Even though the Hilton Universal City is not part of the Evolution Plan and has no affiliation with Comcast NBCUniversal or the theme park, the project EIR will take into consideration the potential future approved development of Comcast NBCUniversal’s property. Just as the Hilton Universal City has accommodated impacts during the expansion of the theme park, the Hilton Universal City will work with Comcast NBCUniversal to ensure that project construction impacts do not impede their operations.