The Integral Group, which acquired the GM site last year, is partnering with Capstone South Properties to develop "Third Rail Studios" on a six-acre section of the 165-acre development.
The first phase of Third Rail Studios will be in an existing 130,000-square-foot building retrofitted into film and television production studios. It will include 60,000 square feet of sound stages and 20,000 square feet of production support mill shops, administrative offices and related vendor spaces.
When fully-built out, Third Rail Studios will be a 270,000-square-foot-facility.
"It's something everybody can get excited about because it provides a big spark," said Eric Pinckney, Integral's project executive for Assembly.
The studios are expected to open for business by the end of the year, said Christopher Martorella, Integral's president of commercial real estate.
"It's something that can happen very quickly because there's an existing place that lends itself well to what we want to do," Martorella said.
He added that Integral was fortunate to have teamed up with Michael Hahn, the founder of Capstone South. Before becoming a venture partner with Integral, Hahn worked for the proposed Jacoby Development movie studio mixed-use project in Gwinnett County.
"We are confident we will have a tenant ready to go," said Hahn, who added he already has reached out to his contacts in the business. "I think we'll have someone notable as a tenant."
The film studio is the first major project to be announced for the Assembly development, which is being marketed and presented as several different neighborhood districts.
Despite the plethora of movie studios planned or open in Atlanta, there is pent-up demand for more film and television production facilities, said Egbert Perry, CEO of Integral. Having Third Rail Studios as part of the Assembly development will add a "sexy, funky, cool" flavor to that part of the GM site.
"Third Rail Studios" refers to the three rail lines that previously served the GM Doraville assembly plant, as well as the creative energy in the media production community.
The now unused rail lines will be preserved and integrated within the landscape, akin to New York City's Highline. The studios will anchor the "Yards District" portion of the site, billed as a one-of-a-kind destination for dining, entertainment, parks, art, retail, makers, and other businesses.
"We are still way below what is needed to support the industry as it exists today," Perry said of the new studio project. "It doesn't begin to address the existing demand, not to mention any growth in demand."
Third Rail Studios is just the latest in a number of new studio projects popping up in the metro Atlanta area. Eagle Rock Distributing Co., a large beverage distributor in Atlanta, opened two sound stage locations in Norcross and Stone Mountain within the past year.
Mailing Avenue Stageworks opened near Grant Park in 2012, and it the past month it opened a second location on the Westside.
Pinewood Studios in Fayette County also is expanding its operations.
A handful of other new studio projects are still in the planning stages. Tyler Perry Studios, now operating a 200,000-square-foot studio in Southwest Atlanta, is in talks to buy 330 acres of Fort McPherson for a new complex.
Shannon Mall in Union City, Ga., is being redeveloped into a 345,000-square-foot studio by a firm called 404 Studio Partners, which is led by former Turner Entertainment Group andUniversal Studio executives.
Atlanta developer Jim Jacoby plans to turn Norcross fiber optic plant OFS into an "Atlanta Media Complex" with seven sound stages and a film school, but recent reports indicate the project is facing a financing hurdle.
"The site's transportation history and rail yards are symbolic, as Third Rail Studios and the Yards will continue to transport creativity and content to and from the region," Hahn said.
The design for Third Rail Studios is led by Janson Tsai, a division of the architectural design firm Perkins Eastman. Previous work includes design of Kaufman/Astoria Film Studios and Steiner Film Studios in New York, as well as projects with Imagine Films, CBS Television,NBC Universal, ESPN, Disney, and Sony — among others.
When looking to name the development, Perry acknowledged he did not love "Assembly." But the more he thought about it, he realized it worked on many different levels.
Five film and television studios around Atlanta, including Covington-based Triple Horse Studios, have come together to form an advocacy group for Georgia's studios and businesses that support film and television industries. The five studios forming the new Georgia Studio and Infrastructure Alliance (GSIA) are: Eagle Rock Studios Atlanta, EUE/Screen Gems Studios Atlanta, Mailing Avenue Stageworks, Tyler Perry Studios and Triple Horse Studios.
The 501 C-6 group was created to serve as a legislative and educational advocacy group for studio and production support businesses in the Georgia film and television industry. The state's Education of the crew members and development of talent needed to keep clients returning to Georgia will be another key focus.
The GSIA was formed in part because studios and entertainment-related businesses do not receive the tax credit from Georgia's Entertainment Industry Investment Act, also called the Georgia film and television credit. The tax credit applies only to the production dollars spent creating television content or motion pictures. Tyler Perry Studios and Triple Horse Studios are eligible for credits only for their in-house production and post-production work-but not for their studio investment or hosting of third party productions.
Kris Bagwell, Executive Vice President of EUE/Screen Gems Studios and Chairman of GSIA says,"This is a group of companies putting capital at risk and hiring employees, many of them Georgians, due to the success of the tax credit."
Ozzie Areu, President of Tyler Perry Studios says, "Tyler Perry Studios is pleased to become a part of the Georgia Studio and Infrastructure Alliance. We believe that it is important for those investing in making this a long-term business in the state of Georgia speak with one voice. TPS is fully committed to working with state and city officials along with the other members of the Alliance to make the TV and film production business a permanent fixture in Georgia's vibrant economic success story."
Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office Deputy Commissioner Lee Thomas points to the combination of the sound stages and the film tax credit making it possible to attract projects that directly and indirectly employ more than 77,900 people in the state. "Being able to provide productions with state-of-the-art infrastructure, a trained workforce and deep network of support services is essential to the sustainability of this industry," she says.
Members of the group made education and job training a priority as they formed the organization by doing the following:
The GSIA recently partnered with the Lt. Governor's Office and Georgia's College and Career Academies, developing a training curriculum for film and television jobs. Several GSIA members serve on the Advisory Board for the Georgia Film Institute at Southern Crescent Technical College in Griffin, Ga. where students are already enrolled and learning film-specific trades.
In November 2014, GSIA members joined Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle at his annual Business and Education Summit held at Rockdale Career Academy in Conyers and the Newton College and Career Academy in Covington. Film education was one of the top initiatives, and members helped produce a video on film jobs for the College and Career Academy website: http://georgiacareeracademies.org/?p=1264
Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle says, "I couldn't be more excited and thrilled about the partnership between the Georgia Studio & Infrastructure Alliance and our College and Career Academies. It is important that we develop a film-ready workforce to meet the needs of the film productions that are advancing to Georgia. This great partnership will not only serve as a powerful economic generator for our state but will create jobs for Georgians and new opportunities for a highly skilled workforce."
GSIA executive director Misty Holcomb says the membership will eventually encompass other production support businesses such as post-production houses, lighting and grip companies, production payroll and others.
Triple Horse Studios, Covington, Ga (triplehorse.com) - Studio used exclusively by Triple Horse featuring a 52,000 sq ft facility with full production and post-production divisions, including digital intermediate, foley stage, dubbing stage, insert stages, camera, and production equipment. A 200,000 sq ft expansion is in development. The Triple Horse Studios Vimeo channel can be viewed on the AtlantaFilmCrewApp.Com Android App, available in the Google Play Store.
Tyler Perry Studios, Atlanta (tylerperry.com/studio) - Southwest Atlanta facility used exclusively by Perry includes 200,000 sq ft of studio space, post-production facility, sound stages and back lot.
Eagle Rock Studios Atlanta, Stone Mountain and Norcross, Ga. (eaglerockstudiosatl.com) - Currently in Stone Mountain, they offer 65,945 sq ft of production space. A four-stage lot with 119, 418 sq ft of production space is under construction in Norcross with grand opening scheduled March 22, 2015.
EUE/Screen Gems Studios, Atlanta (studios.euescreengems.com/Atlanta) - Ten-stage Atlanta studio complex with 212,000 sqft of production space at former Lakewood Fairgrounds. In 2010, EUE/Screen Gems Studios was the first large "for hire" movie and television production studio to invest in Georgia.
Mailing Avenue Stageworks, Atlanta (mailingavenuestageworks.com) - Mailing Avenue Stageworks is an 85,000 sq ft single-stage production facility in the Grant Park area of Downtown. On the Westside, they have a 55,000 sq ft studio called Westside Stageworks.
For more discussion of GEORGIA FILM STUDIOS and other New Hollywood chatter, visit www.AtlantaFilmCommunity.Com
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