Dozen architects vie to design Miami-owned film studio
By Patricia Hoyos
The Miami Community Redevelopment Agency received about a dozen responses from architecture firms by the Dec. 21 deadline to its request for proposal for its planned film studios in a former school board building.
By April, said H. Bert Gonzalez, Omni redevelopment agency assistant director, the agency hopes to have a design of the Miami Entertainment Complex ready to present to board members. A five-member committee is to select a firm in January and then make a recommendation to Omni agency chairman and Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff.
The agency aims to build and run a state-of-the-art facility at 29 NW 13th St. in hopes of making Miami a desirable destination for making films.
Redevelopment agency executives also hope to "create economic magnets to draw more businesses to the Omni area to complement established activities in the surrounding area," according to an agency report on the entertainment complex.
The area has met little success attracting businesses, but the agency hopes the complex, along with streetscaping along 14th Street and the agency's new headquarters, now under construction, will help revitalize the area and capitalize on increased interest in Miami as a film destination.
The film complex is also intended to develop jobs by creating a demand for a highly skilled local crew needed to assist in projects that would use the studios throughout the year.
"South Florida has always been a Mecca for filming such as Burn Notice, The Glades, you name it," Mr. Gonzalez said.
The Omni Community Redevelopment Agency's board, which is the City of Miami commission, allocated $1.1 million back in August for planning, design, permitting and construction of the complex, which is projected to cost $10.6 million.
Money permitting, the complex will have two state-of-the-art sound stages of 10,000 to 12,000 square feet each, Mr. Gonzalez said.
The building will also have office space and a motion capture stage, which is a special visual effects green screen stage where filming is done for digital imaging, he said.
The average rental fee per day for sound stages of similar size to those planned for the complex is $2,000, according to the redevelopment agency's report. If the complex were rented out 100% of the time, the net profit for the city would be over $2 million a year, the report says.
Even if the space were only rented at 25% of capacity, the report says, the city would be making a $39,225 profit. The facility is expected to be financially self-sufficient.
The redevelopment agency also plans to partner with local universities to create an education system, Mr. Gonzalez said. Students would gain hands-on experience through internships with the goal of being ready to enter the film industry when they graduate.
Sandy Lighterman, film and entertainment industry liaison for the Miami-Dade County Office of Film and Entertainment, who leads the county's filming efforts, said there has been a huge increase in productions in Miami.
In 2009, she said, production expenditures in the city totaled about $106 million. In 2010, they hit about $162 million. For 2011, expenditures soared to $315 million.
Mr. Gonzalez said there is demand for a film studio and, with the state tax incentive program that has been attracting producers to the city, all Miami needs to do is provide the space.
"All you should provide is an empty hole, soundproof, air conditioned," he said. "The filmmakers come in with their 16 wheelers and plug in everything. Our emphasis is on space."
Today, the largest motion picture facility in Florida is G-Star Studios in West Palm Beach.
The State's Office for Film & Entertainment has committed to providing $272 million over the next five years to entice the film industry to Florida.
The recently cancelled Charlie's Angels, Rock of Ages starring Tom Cruise and Magic City, a 10-episode series centering on Miami's 1950s mob scene, are among projects shot in Miami in 2011.
To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e -Miami Today, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.