DeKalb officials tout film studio’s ‘transformational’ potential

Ryan Millsap CEO of Blackhall Studios recently announced that the deal to exchange 53 acres of land along Boudercrest Road in DeKalb County for a small part of Intrenchment Creek Park has been finalized. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Ryan Millsap CEO of Blackhall Studios recently announced that the deal to exchange 53 acres of land along Boudercrest Road in DeKalb County for a small part of Intrenchment Creek Park has been finalized. CONTRIBUTED

The planned expansion of Blackhall Studios will be “transformational” for southern DeKalb and the rest of the region, county officials said Tuesday.

Developers working with the film studio — which has operated near Bouldercrest Road and I-285 since 2017 — filed permit applications last week that would pave the way for a long-discussed expansion that’s projected to cost around $250 million. Plans call for a total of 18 new soundstages and associated workshop and office space to go up on 155 acres that surround the existing Blackhall campus.

ExploreA park, a film studio and the DeKalb community that supports a land swap

The additions would be enough to make it the largest film production facility in Georgia, officials said. And representatives from Blackhall Global Partners — the development arm responsible for the studio’s expansion — said the project could create nearly 6,000 jobs and have an economic impact of $1 billion.

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, a not-so-amateur historian, likened the project’s potential to the arrival of a General Motors plant in Doraville in the 1940s. He said it will bring prosperity and hope to a part of southern DeKalb “that has often been overlooked, marginalized and underserved.”

“It’s an amazing moment, a transformational moment,” Thurmond said during a Tuesday morning meeting of DeKalb’s Board of Commissioners.

Two representatives from Blackhall Global Partners — Peter Rumbold and Jeff Weber — also joined the call to discuss the plans.

Rumbold said the project would be “incredibly beneficial” to south DeKalb and reinforce Georgia’s reputation as “the Hollywood of the South.” Weber said he’s looking forward to continuing to work collaboratively with county officials and community members.

“It’s a big site, it has a lot of challenges for us, so we need to kind of all be pulling in the same direction,” he said.

The expansion that Weber’s team is currently seeking permits for does not involve a 40-acre parcel that has been the subject of a land swap between Blackhall and DeKalb County, a representative for the development team said.

The county and Blackhall closed on that swap — which involves giving part of the existing Intrenchment Creek Park to the film studio — last month, but a pair of environmental groups have filed a lawsuit to try and prevent things from proceeding any further.