NBC to say goodbye to Burbank facility

The legendary Burbank TV studio complex that was home to many of NBC’s major programs is being put up for sale. The network is relocating its West Coast television production to nearby Universal City in Los Angles.

NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” local news operations and other entertainment programming will be relocated to a new $800 million studio complex that will integrate with Universal’s motion picture studios. “This is part of a long-term strategy on the West Coast, centralizing our businesses in one location in Los Angeles,” Tom Smith, senior vice president of West Coast Real Estate for NBC Universal, told the “Los Angeles Daily News.”

The new complex, to eventually employ 3200 people, will be located adjacent to the Universal City Red Line subway station. It will centralize all of NBC’s news properties, including the news division of local affiliate KNBC-TV (Channel 4) and Telemundo’s KVEA-TV (Channel 52), allowing them to collaborate.

The first phase of the expansion, to be completed in 2011, will be a five-story, 315,000sq-ft broadcast studio with a 24-story post-production office facility and another 24-story high-rise with six stories of parking. A 34-story office tower or condominium hotel is scheduled for completion in 2015.

With the new facility, NBC Universal is going green. The project, with its renewable power, energy and water-efficient technology, is targeted to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Green Building Rating at the Silver certification level for its design, construction and operation.

NBC is also refurbishing Stage One on the Universal lot — known as the Jack Benny Stage — to serve as home for ��The Tonight Show” in 2009, when Conan O'Brien takes over as host, replacing Jay Leno. The stage will also host “The Today Show” and “NBC Nightly News” when they are broadcast from Los Angeles.

After the move, NBC plans sell major portions of its 34-acre studio in Burbank. Production of some shows will remain at the location for several years to come, the network said.

The move will end a storied part of television history. NBC moved to Burbank in 1952 from its former location at Sunset and Vine in Hollywood. Announcer Gary Owens coined the phrase “beautiful downtown Burbank” as a radio host and made it famous on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” when the show debuted in 1968. Johnny Carson later co-opted the phrase when he moved “The Tonight Show” from New York to Burbank in 1972.

“Beautiful downtown Burbank is thought of as one of the great cities of the world,” Owens told the “Daily News.” “I guess from now on, they can just say, ‘From the place across the street from Universal Studios.’”