Fort Lauderdale will negotiate with a company to build and operate a full-service movie studio complex on a former garbage incinerator site that the city owns.
City commissioners voted 4-0 Tuesday night to approve a resolution directing city staff to negotiate an interim or comprehensive agreement with Fort Lauderdale Studio Initiative LLC for the development of the studio complex.
After Fort Lauderdale Studio Initiative LLC made an unsolicited offer to build a studio complex on the old Wingate incinerator site, the city solicited competitive bids from other companies, but received none.
Fort Lauderdale Studio Initiative LLC would develop, build, operate, and maintain a movie studio complex measuring about 350,000 square feet on the site at 1400 Northwest 31st Avenue.
Fort Lauderdale commissioners are expected to vote separately in July on a proposal to lease the 61-acre site to Fort Lauderdale Studio Initiative LLC. The site is about a half mile east of the Swap Shop & Thunderbird Drive-In Theater on West Sunrise Boulevard.
The planned complex for television and film production would have at least eight sound stages, according to John Milledge, an attorney for Fort Lauderdale Studio Initiative LLC.
The company is led by Christopher Ursitti, founder, co-owner and managing partner of Los Angeles Center Studios, an independent studio complex in downtown Los Angeles. Ursitti also is chief operating officer of a company called Hollywood Locations.
Other co-owners of Fort Lauderdale Studio Initiative LLC include DJ Viola, a producer and director in film and television, and Michael Ullian, whose experience in brownfield redevelopment includes serving as a principal in the development of the Midtown Miami shopping area.
Greg Brewton, former head of Fort Lauderdale’s department of sustainable economic development, is working with the developers on community outreach. His childhood home is near the site.
Ursitti and his partners are using Los Angeles Center Studios as a model for the planned studio complex on the former Wingate incinerator site, where the federal Superfund program completed in 2001 a $16 million cleanup of the soil.
According to its website, Los Angeles Center Studios has been the production site for such films as “Dark Knight Rises,” “Straight Outta Compton,” and “Mission Impossible: 2” as well as television shows including “Mad Men,” “Family Feud,” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”