Lionsgate will be the key tenant with naming rights to a major new studio project in Newark, New Jersey being built being by Robert Halmi and Fehmi Zeko’s Great Point Studios.
The $125 million+ project on 12 acres follows a collaboration by the partners on recently opened Lionsgate Studios in Yonkers as demand for production space continues to explode. It will be first purpose-built studio in the state specifically constructed for TV and film production and is expected to start operations in late 2004.
“This is a great opportunity to scale our East Coast studio footprint [and] support our robust film and television production,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer. The studio had 14 new TV shows picked up to series last year and 16 series renewed, and made 21 feature films last year, underscoring its need for more space — an issue across the industry.
This studio will rise in Newark’s South Ward at the former Seth Boyden Housing site close to the Newark Airport, the Port of Newark, NJ Transit, the PATH train system and several major highways.
Partner the New Jersey Performing Arts Center will manage public affairs and community relations including programs and internships for local high school and college students.
The facility will be owned by a joint venture between Great Point Studios, a studio investment and management business, and its institutional partner, an affiliate of private investment firm Lindsay Goldberg. Great Point will operate the 300,000 square-foot complex with sound stages from 20,000 to 30,000 square feet, offices, support space and parking for 400 cars and 65 trucks. It will offer a full set of production services on site, including grip and electric, equipment, props, set building, restaurants, location catering, cleaning service, and security.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has been actively recruiting productions with tax incentives. Netflix (which recently opened a studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn) is bidding for a site at the Fort Monmouth military base, a century old, 89-acre location that was closed in 2011. The governor’s “active encouragement, in addition to the recently passed legislation on film and television incentives, were instrumental in attracting Lionsgate to New Jersey,” the studio said Tuesday.
“One of my administration’s priorities has been to enhance New Jersey’s film industry and create new revenue streams for our State,” said Murphy, noting that the deal will accelerate NJ’s position as a hub for television and film production given its “proximity to all forms of transportation and access to more than 14,000 qualified union members in the region.”
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka called the project “a monumental victory for our city” amid the revitalization of the South Ward area. The new studio is expected to create more than 600 new long-term jobs, with priority for positions going to residents of Newark, and generate more than $800 million of annual economic impact for the city and state.
Halmi, founder of the Hallmark Channel has produced more than 400 film and television projects. “We have a shared vision for the future of the entertainment industry, and it’s reflected in every detail we put into this complex. Given the rise in studio production post-Covid, we are confident that expanding our studio program into New Jersey will be a welcome addition,” he said.
Matrix Development will serve as the project developer. Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm, will lead on architecture and master planning.
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