Tuesday, July 25, 2006
HOLLYWOOD COMES TO ALBUQUERQUE
The Albuquerque Tribune By Erik SiemersTribune ReporterJuly 24, 2006 A Hollywood studio unveiled plans this morning to build a 50-acre film production campus at Mesa del Sol that could employ up to 2,000 people. Culver Studios of Culver City, Calif., began work last week on what they're calling Albuquerque Studios: a full-service site for film, TV, music videos, commercials and digital media processing. (Pacifica Ventures via U.S. Newswire) "Most of the movies that are not made in Hollywood are made in Canada," Nick Smerigan, executive director of Albuquerque Studios and a managing director with Pacifica Ventures, owners of Culver Studios, said in a news release. "This facility will bring a significant number of these productions, and the jobs that go with them, back to the U.S. where they belong." The studio's owner, Pacifica Ventures, plans an initial $75 million investment in the south Albuquerque development. The company will first have 75 permanent jobs, but that's expected to grow to 2,000 once in full production. Another 900 jobs are expected to be generated from the studio's construction, according to a news release from Mesa del Sol. Work began last week on the first of eight sound stages, to be joined later by production office space, post-production suites and room for set construction. The studios will also have room for set construction, set storage and a large back lot, according to the news release. In total, it's more than 500,000 square feet of buildings. "The availability of quality land, the close proximity to the Albuquerque airport and the incentives offered by the state of New Mexico were the deciding factors," Smerigan said in the news release. (Pacifica Ventures via U.S. Newswire) The state offers a 25 percent tax rebate on in-state spending by film or TV production, along with four-year interest-free loans of up to $15 million for qualifying companies. The studio's development is expected to speed construction of retail services within the 12,900-acre Mesa del Sol. The Forest City Covington NM, LLC, development is projected to bring about 30,000 homes and new job and retail centers to the city's southeast quadrant. Melanie Majors, a spokeswoman for Mesa del Sol, said every home will be within one mile of a village center that will incorporate retail services. Those centers were intended to be phased-in as the development progressed. (Pacifica Ventures via U.S. Newswire) But Albuquerque Studios employees are expected to move in by mid-January, making the need for retail services more immediate, she said. The first village center is expected to begin within a year to 18 months, Majors said. Michael Daly, Forest City's chief operating officer, said that could also include a boutique hotel. According to its Web site, Culver's California studios are the home of classics like "Gone With the Wind," "The Andy Griffith Show," and "Raging Bull" among others. Copyright 2006, The Albuquerque Tribune. All Rights Reserved.
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