The latest in a flurry of new TV and film studios being built in the state is BlueStar Studios at a portion of the former Fort Gillem army post in Forest Park.
BlueStar Studios, which broke ground two months ago, will feature 18 stages by its completion and will begin taking in clients in the late summer of 2023, according to Rich Goldberg, CEO, who spent time in Atlanta at Turner Broadcasting in the 1990s, then helped launch DirecTV in Los Angeles. In 2015, he joined a virtual reality startup company Jaunt, whose assets were sold to Verizon in 2019.
The historic 108,000-square-foot Fort Gillem headquarters building will serve as the centerpiece of the 53-acre BlueStar campus. Several historic buildings will be repurposed to ensure preservation of the former Army post’s architectural legacy.
BlueStar, like existing EUE Screen Gems, Atlanta Metro Studios and Tyler Perry Studios, is relatively close to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which is appealing to many Hollywood types.
Goldberg, in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday, said the city of Forest Park and Clayton County have “welcomed us with open arms.”
Forest Park Mayor Angelyne Butler, in a press release, hailed BlueStar’s arrival: “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 in a technology-forward way.”
Atlanta-based Gala Media Capital, a division of Peachtree Group, originated the financing for construction of phase one of the studio development. BlueStar said it is investing $180 million in the project.
Several area studios are undergoing major expansions including EUE Screen Gems, Shadowbox Studios (formerly Blackhall Studios) and Three Ring Studios. Trilith Studios in Fayetteville, which hosts many Marvel and Disney+ films and series, is also adding several stages. Tyler Perry said in a recent interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he has plans to add 10 more stages at Tyler Perry Studios (which is on former Fort McPherson property) on top of his existing 12 but delayed start of expansion because of inflationary pressures that he hopes are temporary.
Other new studios joining the fray including Athena Studios in Athens, Assembly Studios in Doraville on the former General Motors assembly plant property and Electric Owl Studios near the Indian Creek MARTA station.
Currently, the state has more than 60 purpose-built soundstages available for use and dozens of repurposed ones. The planned new studios could more than double stage capacity in Georgia over the next 24 months.
Goldberg said he isn’t fazed by the influx of new soundstages.
“I think there’s tremendous demand,” Goldberg said, noting that it’s still cheaper for film and TV shows to work in Atlanta than Vancouver, New York or Los Angeles. And even though New Mexico is vying for business as well, he believes the crew base here is far deeper.
On top of that, he promises that his soundstages will be “state of the art with an emphasis on technology,” especially virtual reality.
Fort Gillem for years has been a source of high hopes and angst for Clayton County. The former Army post served for some 70 years as a key logistics hub and economic engine for the county.
But Fort Gillem largely closed in 2011 as part of the Pentagon’s 2005 restructuring process. The mothballing of the post hit as Clayton was still reeling from the Great Recession. Forest Park purchased 1,170 acres of the base in 2012 for $30 million.
The city of Forest Park and developer partners have since worked to convert the bulk of the post into a corporate logistics hub, landing high-profile distribution centers by Kroger and other companies.
Some parts of the former Army facility have required cleanup of industrial solvents which contaminated groundwater nearby.
Goldberg said his company did an environmental study of the 53 acres they purchased and said “there are no issues whatsoever.”
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