A fed-up George Lucas has pulled the plug on a digital studio development plan that Northern California neighbors treated like a plot by an "evil empire." Now Lucasfilm hopes to sell the Grady Ranch site next to Skywalker Ranch in Marin County to a developer for low-income housing. "We have several opportunities to build in communities that see us as a creative asset, not as an evil empire, and if we are to stay on schedule we must act on those opportunities," says a Lucasfilm statement. "We love working and living in Marin, but the residents of Lucas Valley have fought this project for 25 years, and enough is enough."
Ironically, some 230 homes were planned for Grady Ranch in 1974, but Lucas blocked the development by buying the space. Lucasfilm also fought development of a housing subdivision nearby, and residents of that subdivision became the biggest foes of the proposed 264,000-square-foot production complex, arguing that it's inappropriate for the area. Critics hailed Lucasfilm's latest decision, but stunned county officials and others are now scrambling to change the director's mind, reports the Marin Independent Journal. George Lucas is "one of the best neighbors anyone could ever have," says a local supervisor. "And the loss of millions in revenue we would have coming from this key targeted industry is unfathomable." (Read more Marin County stories.)