Film studio to replace vacant public housing in Newark

$100M Lionsgate Newark project to include six soundstages

Seth Boyden Court in Newark NJ with Great Point Studios CEO Robert Halmi (Loopnet, Great Point Studios, iStock)
Seth Boyden Court in Newark NJ with Great Point Studios CEO Robert Halmi (Loopnet, Great Point Studios, iStock)

Newark’s first public housing site is about to be reborn as a massive film studio.

Great Point Studios is developing the Lionsgate Newark project at the former site of the Seth Boyden Court site, the New York Times reported. The $100 million production hub is expected to open across 15 acres by March 2024, complete with six soundstages and space for set building, editing, catering and crew trucks.

Each soundstage is expected to span at least 20,000 square feet, rivaling the size of sound stages at studios in other major cities. As the name suggests, Lionsgate will be the primary tenant at the facility.

The development is at the former location of Seth Boyden Court, the city’s first public housing site. The complex’s buildings have been vacant since 2015, but a handful of homeless people have been camping out in the area in recent years.

There will be a housing element at the site, built by a different developer. Boraie Development is constructing 200 units for older people across four acres, as well as up to 200 market-rate units nearby.

“We think that we’re really going to be able to bring this neighborhood back to life,” Victor Cirilo, director of Newark’s Housing Authority, told the Times.

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New Jersey is becoming a hotbed for production activity due to its proximity to New York City and lucrative tax breaks the state reauthorized n 2017. Elsewhere in the state, facilities are in the works in Bayonne and West Orange. Additionally, Netflix is bidding to buy a 300-acre parcel in Fort Monmouth that could be used for production.

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Rendering of the Lionsgate studio (Credit: Yonkers IDA/Lohud)
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Soundstage square footage in New York and New Jersey has increased 14 percent since the start of last year, according to CBRE. The two states combine for nearly 3 million square feet of sound stages and film areas and another 1 million square feet of sound stages is on the way.

“New York is one of the densest markets with a huge film-industry background and very little supply,” CBRE’s Anthony Jasenski told the Wall Street Journal.

Great Point Studios has waded into development for film production space in the tri-state area before. The Lionsgate studio that opened earlier this year in Yonkers, New York is a 500,000-square-foot facility that cost $500 million to develop, according to YIMBY. A larger campus is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

[NYT] — Holden Walter-Warner