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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About Pacifica Ventures
Pacifica Ventures purchased the historic Culver Studios in 2004 from Sony Pictures Entertainment in a transaction that was valued at over $125 million. The Culver Studios core clientele is comprised of major studios and independent producers; features films and television shows; commercials; music videos and tour rehearsals for major music acts. Television shows currently in production include NBC/Universal's hit Las Vegas, game-show sensation Deal or No Deal and Sony's highly anticipated new talk show, The Greg Behrendt Show. Recent feature films shot at the studio include Bewitched, Yours Mine & Ours, the forthcoming Christopher Guest spoof For Your Consideration and the long awaited sequel Rush Hour III. The cutting edge 3-D motion- capture films The Polar Express and Monster House were also "filmed" at the Studio. Historically the studio was the site for such beloved and memorable films as Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane, E.T., Raging Bull and It's a Wonderful Life and home to such classic television series as The Andy Griffith Show, Batman and Mad About You.
About Commonwealth Realty Advisors
Commonwealth Realty Advisors, Inc. is a provider of real estate investment advisory services to tax-exempt, institutional investors through separate accounts and closed-end funds including the Workers Realty Trust programs. With over $2.2 billion in assets under management, Commonwealth has provided fiduciary investment management services for the pension fund community for over 15 years. The firm's nationwide portfolios include retail, office, industrial, and multi-family with services including acquisition, disposition, due diligence development and redevelopment oversight, asset repositioning, and asset management.
About Amalgamated Bank
Founded in 1923, Amalgamated Bank invests workers' retirement savings through its LongView Funds. As the only fully union- owned U.S. bank still in operation, Amalgamated Bank remains firmly committed to its role as partner to the labor movement in the twenty-first century. With $10 billion in assets under management, and the retirement savings of working people now accounting for the largest pool of investment capital in the United States, Amalgamated strives to be the most active and involved investment manager in the country, pursuing value for its investors and monitoring corporate governance. Amalgamated is the trustee of the LongView ULTRA I Construction Loan Investment Fund which is a commingled fund that invests only in projects constructed using 100 percent union labor.
About Mesa del Sol
Mesa del Sol is a community designed for Albuquerque's south mesa where history and tradition meet the 21st century. Combining job creation and sustainable urban community planning, Mesa del Sol will reflect a balance of environmental resources, economic objectives and social amenities in a community that is forward looking and has a highly-defined sense of place.
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