Film studio deals for 160 county acres
Written by Catherine Lackner on January 28, 2015
If all goes as planned, a mammoth studio complex comprising 11 sound stages and 1.5 billion cubic feet of water in 10 giant tanks, as well as office and production space, will rise on 160 acres of county-owned land at 20000 NW 47th Ave. by early 2018.
“I’m hoping to beat Atlanta and North Carolina by a chunk,” said Rodolfo Paiz, a principal of Miami Ocean Studios LLC. “This is Hollywood-class.”
His company is in negotiations to lease the Miami-Dade County land and will begin infrastructure improvements, including roads and sewers, when the deal is signed. The improvements will cost nearly $30 million, of which the county will reimburse the developer $10 million once the work is done, he said.
The land lies in an unincorporated area known as County Club of Miami, between the Palmetto Expressway and the Florida Turnpike, near the Miami-Dade and Broward county line, and north of Opa-locka Executive Airport. The state transportation department has plans to widen Northwest 47th Street next year, which is a key advantage of the site.
Construction will commerce in about a year and will take roughly two years, Mr. Paiz said. The sound stages, the largest of which is 24,000 square feet, will have ceiling heights of 33 to 45 feet to accommodate lighting and electrical needs, he said. The studios also have to be able to withstand a category 5 hurricane, he added.
“If you figure the kind of structure that is that big, with no column in the middle, that’s a huge block of clear space,” he said. “All of this stuff needs to be well-engineered. Fortunately, the process of knowing how to do it is already out there.”
The water features include a canal that is 100 feet wide and 3,000 feet long, one water tank that is 300 by 200 feet square, and one that is 30 feet deep, he said.
“One of the things Miami has going for it is water, but it can be inconvenient and unsafe to shoot in open water, so we’ve designed these tanks,” Mr. Paiz said. “This is a complete package; it will have few competitors worldwide.”
A third-generation member of a Guatemalan family that has traditionally specialized in retail, he said his company ran a number of scenarios before committing to the studio project. While it is not strictly predicated on the state reviving its moribund incentive program, Mr. Paiz said he hopes the Legislature will do so.
“It’s our general belief that incentives offered by the State of Florida and, possibly, Miami-Dade County, are extremely important.” Reports have estimated that each incentive dollar results in a five-fold direct or indirect expenditure. “When we give somebody a dollar and they come back and spend five, that looks like great business to me, and something we want to promote as much as possible.”
He estimates that the project will add about 3,100 direct jobs during construction and 2,700 high-paying positions for film crews and others who work in the complex once it is open.
A hotel is also planned for the property and will be probably be run by a concessionaire, he added.
Mr. Paiz said he hopes Miami Ocean Studios will also become a business accelerator. “In a place like Miami, you always have start-ups. We will be looking for people who are doing cool things that are applicable to recording, and might take a portion of equity in their companies. We hope folks who are trying new things and looking for resources will find us.”
It will have a synergistic effect to not only build the studio, but also to nurture the local talent that will be needed as the film industry expands here, he said. “We’re very focused on building not only our brand, but Miami’s brand.”