‘Game-changer’: Pinewood Studios plans live-work, educational campuses in F’ville
“This project is a game-changer for Georgia.” That was the assessment of the impact that Pinewood Atlanta Studios is expected to have, both locally and statewide, when it opens for business in January in Fayetteville, according to studio Vice President for Operations Brian Cooper.
Conceptual plans for the studio project (See below for more graphics) show why Pinewood Atlanta Studios could easily become the largest economic generator in the history of Fayetteville and Fayette County.
The plans for Pinewood Atlanta Studios continue to unfold and the large acreage north of Ga. Highway 54 on Fayetteville’s west side is expected to be annexed into the city in the coming weeks.
Including nearly 600 acres, the various properties along Veterans Parkway and Sandy Creek Road are requesting annexation with a Planned Community District (PCD) zoning. The Fayetteville City Council is expected to vote on the annexation and zoning requests in August.
Conceptual build-out plans presented by project architect Bill Foley at the Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission meeting June 25 showed nearly four dozen potential buildings on the 290-acre site on the west side of Veterans Parkway and Sandy Creek Road and the potential for nearly two dozen buildings on the 97-acre site immediately to the south.
Potential plans for the 28-acre educational campus at the intersection of Sandy Creek Road and Veterans Parkway showed several classroom and other buildings while the 44-acre site adjacent to it showed as many as 15 buildings.
Potential plans include the establishment of a 117-acre tract on the east side of Veterans Parkway that would be the site of a residential campus.
Foley and other project representatives have stressed that the conceptual plans are essentially projections of what could develop as the project unfolds and are dependent on Pinewood’s success with the overall studio project. There has been no speculation as to the timeframe involved and how many years it might take to achieve build-out.
To date, the only activity is on the 290-acre site and includes the initial construction of a portion on the project’s first phase that will include several sound stages, workshops and offices.
An important aspect of the overall project, and one that has been stressed from the beginning, is the educational component designed to provide skills and training to the large and varied workforce that will fill the employment ranks of the various companies that are expected to move into the area.
The educational campus is to be located on the site of the former Rivers Elementary School. It has been noted at a number of public meetings that talks are underway with various colleges that might be interested in locating teaching facilities adjacent to the studio property. A sampling of those include Clayton State University, Savannah College of Art and Design and Southern Crescent Technical College.
“We will need a skilled labor force that will run the gamut,” Cooper said in terms of the various types of jobs that will be needed. “That’s why we need to look at a number of schools, to train the next generation in this industry.”
The idea behind obtaining an option for the 117-acre property for a potential residential campus deals with another aspect of Pinewood’s future in Fayette County.
“We wanted to protect our interest and Fayette County’s interest,” Cooper said of Pinewood’s interest having the parcel zoned PCD and in maintaining quality development in the area.
Foley at the June 25 meeting said the residential campus could be utilized by some of the television and movie production staff whose contracts will range from a few months to a year and by some of the students attending the various schools on the education campus a short distance to the north and accessible by foot within minutes.
Cooper said no timeline and no plans have been initiated for the residential campus, adding that the current emphasis is to get the studio up and running.
“The residential campus will be developed as needed,” Cooper said.
Once initiated, Cooper said the residential offerings will likely be along the lines of bungalows and townhouses in a manner that keeps the community in mind. Project representatives on previous occasions have stated the potential for a small number of mixed use offerings and limited retail such as coffee shops.
Cooper said Pinewood Atlanta Studios is envisioned to eventually encompass 700,000-800,000 square feet of enclosed space that will accommodate various types of movie and television production projects.
As the studio grows, a variety of types of vendors serving the industry will call Pinewood Atlanta Studios home.
“Everything from lighting to lumber, using local and Georgia companies as much as possible to spend money locally. This operation will bring a lot of people to the community,” Cooper said, citing post-production companies as an example. “There is nearly no post-production done [now] in Georgia. Most of it is done in California. This is a highly technical, specific industry. And some of them will come here to teach Georgia residents.”
Cooper on Monday noted how Georgia’s tax incentives for the television and movie industry continue to attract a larger number of projects to the state. In terms of large productions, Cooper said “Fast and Furious 5” was filmed in Georgia and was reported to have a production cost of $125 million. In terms of the future, Cooper said a $200-300 million production could be shot in Georgia.
Though initially expected to be presented for possible approval by the City Council on July 18, the annexation and rezoning request will be tabled until August.
Pertaining to the 117-acre residential area, it was initially intended to carry a PCD rezoning request though the signage advertising the rezoning indicated R-70 zoning.
Additionally, city staff and those with Fayette County are scheduled to meet July 9 to address a number of issues pertaining to the large Pinewood development.
Those issues must be approved and accomplished in tandem with the annexations that are being pursued so that Pinewood can begin operations this coming January.
Below (1), the foundations are being laid at Pinewood Atlanta Studios for five soundstages and one workshop. The work is ongoing on the 290-acre property along the west side of Sandy Creek Road and Veterans Parkway. The site is part of approximately 600 acres that will include a large movie and television production facility along with an educational campus and a residential campus. Photo/Ben Nelms.
(2) Graphic below shows examples of residential campus next to Pinewood Atlanta Studios. All graphics provided by Foley Design Associates, Inc.
(3) Graphic below shows examples of an educational campus to serve the studios complex.
(4) Graphic below shows examples of sets that might be used at Pinewood Atlanta Studios.
(5) Examples below of service providers and businesses at Pinewood Atlanta Studios.
(6) Graphic below shows proposed annexation parcels.
(7) Map of educational campuses across road from the studio complex.
(8) Rendering below of typical soundstage.