New England Studios Breaks Ground on Devens State-of-the-Art Film and Television Studios

June 26, 2012

Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077
Mike Meyers, MJM Development
Chris Byers, Director of Studios Operations, 818-415-3862 & 978-455-6966

New England Studios, joined by representatives from the Patrick-Murray Administration and MassDevelopment, broke ground today on its state-of-the-art film and television studio complex suitable for films, television programs, and commercials. The facility will be built on Lot 13, with an expansion opportunity on Lot 14, creating a 15-acre signature site along Jackson Road, the main access road in Devens. The project responds to the demand for Massachusetts-based production facilities following the introduction of the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit.

“The film industry is part of Massachusetts’s creative economy and we need to make strategic investments to support job opportunities and growth within the industry,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “By partnering with MassDevelopment, New England Studios is moving forward with a state-of-the-art facility that will create permanent jobs in Massachusetts and also attract production companies looking to do business in the Commonwealth.”

“As we develop regional economies through the Patrick-Murray Administration’s long-term economic development plan, Devens will continue to play a significant role in as an economic engine for north-central Massachusetts,” said Greg Bialecki, the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development. “New England Studios is a step forward for our film industry here in Massachusetts, and we welcome the prospects for job creation and private investment this project creates.”

The studios will include four 18,000-square-foot Hollywood-style sound stages, production support offices, mill, storage building, and sound stage support areas for a total of 126,000 square feet at a cost of $30+ million. The project will take a year to construct and generate 100-150 construction jobs. Upon completion, approximately 30 full-time employees will be on-board with another 250-300 production jobs from the various production companies renting the studios.

New England Studios represents a small group of private Massachusetts real estate developers and equity investors. New England Studios has assembled a seasoned team that includes experienced Hollywood film industry professionals and designers with strong Massachusetts affiliations.

“What a great opportunity to continue to fulfill the infrastructure requirements for the emerging Massachusetts film industry,” said Mike Meyers, Director of Real Estate Development for New England Studios. “I am very pleased to stand here today before our legislative leaders and industry colleagues. Thank you for your unwavering support of the Massachusetts Film Industry and the critical Film Tax credit.”

Meyers was joined at the ground-breaking by Chris Byers, Director of Studio Operations, who said, “It has been my dream and passion for the past six years to fill the need for a film studio in Massachusetts. Our goal is to create a world-class home for the film industry.”

“We’re pleased New England Studios has shovels in the ground, ready to turn this site into the next economic engine in Devens,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “MassDevelopment is pleased that this Devens facility will help bring and sustain good film and TV jobs in the Commonwealth.”

“New England Studios is a ground-up, state-of-the-art movie and television studio with sound stages that will be equal to or better than any in Hollywood. Our energy-efficient, user-friendly, and quality construction design approach will create hundreds of high-paying jobs,” said project architect, Gary Bastien of Bastien and Associates. “Having designed 35 full service studios and more than 120 sound stages across the globe over the past 25 years, I feel certain that this project will be a great success, expand over time, and serve to drive development in the Devens area for many years to come.”

Bastien Associates is working in conjunction with the well-known Lowell-based architectural firm of Gavin and Sullivan under the direction of Jack Sullivan.

In July 2011, the MassDevelopment Board of Directors authorized a tax increment financing (TIF) agreement that will reduce the company’s local property tax on the improvements that it makes. The TIF will be applied proportionately to each phase of the project based upon the taxable value of each phase. The TIF will reduce the estimated taxes due over 20 years by slightly more than 20 percent.

New England Studios will create a one-stop, full-service shop for filmmaking needs with the goal of sustaining and growing the Massachusetts movie business. New England Studios anticipates that the project will stimulate economic activity in communities surrounding Devens, as the industry relies on caterers, florists, vehicle rentals, laundry, carpenters, electricians, home goods, lumberyards, lodging, and an assortment of other services. These off-site services will translate to additional employment opportunities.

Located in north central Massachusetts and managed by MassDevelopment, Devens, according to a recently released UMass Donahue Institute report available here, hosts more than 90 firms and organizations employing more than 3,200 people. Created by statute in 1993 to support business growth and attract economic development opportunities in the region, the 4,400-acre site features fast-track permitting and other incentives for businesses. The former military installation is recognized today as a national model for military base redevelopment. Along with its business tenants, the Devens community also includes more than 2,100 acres of recreation and open space, private residences, schools, and a network of human and social services providers. Together these organizations and amenities attract more than 150,000 visitors to Devens annually.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2011, MassDevelopment financed or managed more than 300 projects generating investment of $3.8 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create more than 10,000 jobs (2,547 permanent and 8,129 construction), and build or rehabilitate more than 1,000 residential units.