Miami to Spend $11.5 Million for New Movie and TV Studio Complex

1:03 PM PST 03/05/2014 by Alex Ben Block

UPDATED: The Florida city will lease the downtown land and buildings to EUE Screen Gems. It joins other existing studios in South Florida

Miami's Omni Community Redevelopment Agency on Wednesday gave final approval on a plan to provide up to $11.5 million for construction of a full-service movie and TV studio complex to be built and run by EUE Screen Gems.

The studio in downtown Miami -- which will be known as the Miami Entertainment Complex -- is projected to be operational in August 2015.

It will offer about 70,000 square feet of studio space, including two soundstages -- 15,000 square feet and 12,000 square feet -- as well as offices, editing suites and accessory rooms intended to facilitate a wide variety of movie, TV, digital, commercial and other productions.

It was announced in November that EUE Screen Gems had won a competition to operate the studio, and it has taken three months to work out the final agreement.

EUE Screen Gems, which already operates movie production facilities in New York, North Carolina and Georgia, will lease the Miami complex for an initial period of 10 years for $100,000 per year plus an 11 percent gross revenue share. EUE Screen Gems, based in New York, will have an option to renew for another nine years.

"Miami offers a seasoned film community and experienced crew. The locations here are like no other in the country, and the Hollywood community is very aware of the assets Florida offers," said Chris Cooney, EUE Screen Gems COO and co-owner.

There are currently at least two other full service studios offering multiple sound stages. One of the most historic is the Greenwich Studios in North Miami, which was formerly the Ivan Tors Studio where Flipper was made. Another is the M3Studios Miami, which has been active since 2003 and has multiple stages, editing suites and offices. It was incorrectly stated in an earlier version of this article that there are not other studio facilities in Miami.

Miami is also spending another $6 million in improvements, including wider sidewalks and a new water main in the area, which is now known as the Media and Entertainment District. There is already a performing arts center in the area; it paid $3.1 million to acquire the land for the studio from the local school district.

"This studio will create hundreds of jobs and generate millions of dollars locally and regionally," said Miami Omni CRA chairman Marc D. Sarnoff. "As more productions see that Miami is serious about attracting the industry and that it has state-of-the-art facilities to accommodate major projects, the industry will be enhanced across the board."

Florida currently offers a package of benefits to attract productions, as do more than 40 other states. In Florida, a production can receive 20 percent of money it spends in the state with an additional 5 percent if it shoots during the off-season and other bonus payments for family-friendly projects, digital postproduction and more, up to a total of 30 percent of what is spent on the production.

There is a cap of $8 million that will be provided for the largest projects and a sliding scale for smaller projects in terms of what they can receive.

There is also a bonus of 15 percent for using recent Florida graduates. As part of the Miami studio agreement, EUE Screen Gems will partner with local educational institutions on a student intern program.

Last month, a bill was introduced in the state legislature to expand funding for film/TV tax incentives to an annual $200 million worth of tax credits. The lawmakers behind the bill have said it can bring $500 million a year to the state and create 50,000 new jobs.

The Miami project has fast-track construction approval on a 14- to 16-month schedule. The project will be designed and built by South Florida firms including AECOM architects, Kaderabek Co. and Facchina Construction of Florida.

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