Pacifica Ventures, owners of the historic Culver Studios in Culver City, California, announced today the official groundbreaking of Albuquerque Studios, a $74 million, 50-acre project only 5 minutes from the Albuquerque International Airport.
The facilities, comprising approximately 500,000 sq. ft., will house eight (8) sound stages, production offices, support space and will provide motion picture and television producers a state- of-the-art, full-service facility less than 90 minutes from Los Angeles.
"We are proud to make a major commitment to the growth of the entertainment industry in New Mexico, said Hal Katersky, chairman of Pacifica Ventures. "As the film industry continues to move significant production out of California, we are providing a real alternative, close to Los Angeles, where the state incentive programs are highly competitive and the costs of production will bring significant savings."
"Our goal is to build in Albuquerque the finest production facility available anywhere," Katersky added. "Everything will be first class." Completion of the studio facilities is expected by next spring, with the first stage complex (comprising 2 24,000 sq. ft. stages and adjacent office space) to be available by February 2007.
Albuquerque Studios will be located at Mesa del Sol, a 9,000 acre master-planned community developed by Forest City Covington, LLC. Mike Daly, COO of Mesa del Sol said, "We welcome the Albuquerque Studios as one of the first occupants and are excited about the jobs and opportunities that the studio brings."
Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez welcomed the studios and reiterated its importance to the growth of the region. "The entertainment industry brings a clean industry with well-paying jobs to the Albuquerque area. The industry is already having a positive impact on the city, with $55 million in direct production spending in the last 12 months, and the coming of the studio will ensure that Albuquerque is a major center for film and television production for years to come."
Katersky credited Governor Bill Richardson, Lt. Governor Diane Denish and Mayor Chavez for their cooperation, understanding and support with "putting this project on the fast track." He also had high praise for the State Film Office including director Lisa Strout and her staff and Albuquerque Film Liaison Ann Lerner and the staff at City Hall.
New Mexico provides a 25 percent tax rebate on all in-state spending by a film or television production. This is a refund, not a credit. The state also offers four-year, interest-free loans of up to $15 million (which may represent 100 percent of the budget) if state labor requirements are met and another reimbursement for each qualified state resident hired as a trainee on a production. All together, Katersky said, it constitutes the most competitive incentive package available anywhere.
"The package offered by the State of New Mexico is visionary," Katersky said. "It is as good as it gets. All of the elements will make New Mexico an important center for production."
Pacifica has engaged Build New Mexico as the developer for the studio project. Build New Mexico is a not-for-profit economic development company located in Albuquerque that facilitates, promotes and creates jobs for the union construction industry. Through Build New Mexico (and its for-profit union pension fund arm, Union Development Corporation), Pacifica is constructing the studio almost entirely with local, union contractors.
Pacifica's financial partners in the Studio are Worker's Realty Trust II, of Chicago, through investment advisors Commonwealth Realty Advisors, Inc., and Amalgamated Bank's ULTRA Construction Loan Fund which is managed in its Washington, D.C. office.
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