BlueStar will house 600,000 sq. ft. of production and office space along with 18 sound stages from 5,000- to 40,000-sq.-ft. in size. (Rendering courtesy of BlueStar Studios)
BlueStar Studios, a $180 million, 53-acre campus planned to be built at the former Fort Gillem Army post in Forest Park, Ga., is the latest in a stream of projects to address booming demand for production space in the state.
With film and TV studio space scarce everywhere, Georgia's 30 percent tax credits are a huge draw for companies. In addition, the cost of doing business is lower in the Peach State than in the traditional production cities of New York, Los Angeles or Vancouver, which is why BlueStar Studios founder and CEO Rich Goldberg decided to set it in the Atlanta suburb.
The former executive at Jaunt and DirecTV brought on Georgia native Mark Parkman as BlueStar's COO, who led the International Olympic Committee's global content strategy, including the launch of a direct-to-consumer service, as well as broadcast operations for 12 Olympic Games.
BlueStar will house 600,000 sq. ft. of production and office space along with 18 sound stages from 5,000- to 40,000-sq.-ft. in size. The historic Fort Gillem headquarters building will serve as a centerpiece of the campus, set in the Atlanta metro area 20 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from downtown.
The plan is to open next summer with construction and development continuing in phases through 2024, reported Deadline.com, an entertainment industry news source. Atlanta-based Gala Media Capital, a division of Peachtree Group, originated the financing for the first phase of construction. Offices are available for lease, Goldberg said, adding the hope is to find a streamer or studio anchor tenant.
BlueStar Complex Latest New Studio
Deadline.com reported that a surge in content creation in recent years with the rise of streaming created a squeeze on available sound stages. Private equity firms, real estate developers in partnerships with executives, studios and financiers have all entered the mix.
Netflix has been expanding, including a recent winning bid to build a new studio at New Jersey's Fort Monmouth. Among others building or expanding sites around the country are Robert Halmi's Great Point and Lionsgate studios, Shadowbox Studios (formerly Atlanta-based Blackhall Studios), and New York's Steiner Studios. Trilith, the former Pinewood Studios Atlanta, has developed an entire town around its complex.
Goldberg noted that productions will have access to two intersecting 100GB fiber lines for supporting all technical needs, including cloud services and virtual production.
"What that means is in the unlikely circumstance that one went down, they would have the second one. Engineers love the word redundancy," he explained. "So many producers are based in New York and Los Angeles, and the editing and special effects are done remotely. When you have a fiber line, you can instantaneously send it to [either location]."
The BlueStar Studios campus includes six historic buildings being repurposed to ensure preservation of the former Army base's architectural legacy and contribute to the project's sustainability under an environmental review process with the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
Final design elements include rehabilitated steel windows and brick walls, restored painted signage, and new windows and doors created based on archival photographs and original drawings.
BlueStar currently has 45,000 sq. ft. of woodworking and metalworking buildings for mill and wardrobe, a nature trail, an onsite café and a dog run. The campus has kept much of its original 1940s-era architecture, according to Deadline.com.
"Fort Gillem has long been a significant presence in our community, so we're thrilled to see such a transformational development through this substantial investment," said Forest Park Mayor Angelyne Butler.
"BlueStar Studios preserves the charm and history of the surrounding area while also bringing new production capabilities and boosting our local economy. We look forward to welcoming productions and their highly skilled professionals to Forest Park."
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