Universal Hilton Will Expand

An ambitious all-union hotel project that has been in the works for several years is moving forward. 

The Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, the largest hotel in the San Fernando Valley, is looking almost to double its number of guest rooms, as well as add a rooftop pool, luxury spa and public areas.

With 18 stories of new construction slated, the property manager says working with the Building Trades is the best way to get it done. 

“We are proud to partner with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, with whom we have a signed Project Labor Agreement,” said Mark Davis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sun Hill Properties, which manages the Hilton and several other hotels for owner and developer Hillcrest. “Working hand in hand, we are excited to bring this expansion to life.”

The project is expected to generate 1,000 construction jobs.

The hotel, built in 1984, currently has 495 rooms. A new tower will add 395 rooms. Set on 7.26 acres, the property will add three restaurants. Building Trades union members will also construct a 2,300-square-foot steel frame canopy with glass design features above the main entrance of the new hotel building. An existing, undeveloped, sub-basement in the southwest corner of the existing parking garage will house mechanical, engineering and plumbing equipment for the new tower.

The hotel serves attractions such as Universal Studios Hollywood.

Overall, the project will add approximately 300,000 square feet of additional floor area. It’s sorely needed as LA gets ready to host the 2028 Summer Olympics.

“Right now, demand is at an all-time high,” Davis said. “Yes, as the largest hotel in the San Fernando Valley, our hotel is next door to Universal Studios Hollywood, but we are so much more than that. We’ve been a staple of the Valley since 1984, hosting hundreds of annual special events, business conferences, weddings, and record numbers of visitors from all over the world.

“With the 2028 Olympics right around the corner, we can help the region be ready when the world comes to Los Angeles.”  

In 2022, more than 46.2 million people visited Los Angeles, spending $21.9 billion, and helping to bring the total economic impact of tourism to $34.5 billion. The LA Tourism and Convention Board projects that in 2023, the city will welcome 50 million visitors which is 98 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

The union-built “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” draws many tourists.

The Hilton expansion is now in the Draft Environmental Impact Report stage, with the report now circulating. That kicks off a Los Angeles city review process, where Building Trades union members and representatives will attend multiple hearings to show support for the all-union project.

Ernesto Medrano, Executive Secretary of the Council, praised the agreement. 

“This strengthens our connection to the tourism industry,” Medrano said. “Tourism is a huge driver of the Southern California economy and generates high-quality union jobs.” 

Medrano noted that the Council also has a Project Labor Agreement with NBCUniversal, a Comcast subsidiary that owns Universal Studios Hollywood.

The PLA enables the Building Trades to provide the skilled labor force to build such attractions as Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opened in 2016, and Super Nintendo World, which opened in February 2023.“In addition, we’re on the job at LAX every day and soon will be on the job to modernize Hollywood Burbank Airport, just five miles from Universal City,” Medrano said. “We are transforming this area and it will be ready in time for the Olympics.”