Hollywood, Texas: Meet the developers betting on film studios
Major incentives provide shot in the arm as real estate developers take notice
Lights, camera, action: the Lone Star State is ready for its star turn.
This year, the Texas Legislature drastically increased the budget for its film incentives program from $45 million to $200 million. While that’s far less than competitors like Georgia, which extended $1.3 billion in tax breaks to productions this year, it’s a shot in the arm to the state’s film industry, and the real estate developers catering to it.
Studios need office space for executives and editors; soundstages and storage space for sets; and residential and retail development for the people working there. As Texas courts the film industry, real estate is paying attention.
The increased tax credit will take time to draw productions, but some developers are already building facilities for when they arrive. These are Texas’ biggest film studio projects already underway:
Hill Country Studios
In San Marcos, along the fast-growing corridor between Austin and San Antonio, Hill Country Studios is planning a $267 million development. The 209-acre project earned final approval from the city council in August.
Located at 6202 West Centerpoint Road,it is expected to total about 800,000 square feet. That includes 12 sound stages, four workshops and around 200,000 square feet of production offices.
The first phase of the development, which includes 170,000 square feet of soundstages, is expected to open next year.
The developer, also called Hill Country Studios, is led by Cory McLoud, with Netflix studios veteran Kevin Bar heading up operations.
In a suburb of Dallas, another major development centered around film production looks ready to roll.
Los Angeles-based Creative Tank, doing business as Super Studios Mansfield, plans to build about 400,000 square feet of sound stages, technical studios and production space, the Dallas Morning News reported. It also aims to include about 250,000 square feet of hotels, retail and residences to accommodate short-term workers who don’t live in town.
Those could include 550 apartments and two hotels with 120 keys apiece.
“This project could be replicated even more than once in Mansfield because of that demand that’s there,” Jason Moore, executive director of the Mansfield Economic Development Corporation, told the outlet. “There’s a lot of money in Hollywood; there’s a lot of private equity. That’s how a lot of these projects get funded.”
In addition to the state’s tax incentives for productions, Mansfield is helping out the developers. The Mansfield EDC is selling the studio property to the developer for $7.3 million and rezoning the site to fit its new use.
Meanwhile, South Side Studios in South Dallas, the city’s only existing large-scale film and TV production studio, was recently acquired by Talon Entertainment Finance. That firm plans a multimillion-dollar renovation that will add five sound stages, a post-production facility and offices.
The work should wrap by May, CultureMap reported.
Texas has already produced some of the country’s biggest film stars, from Matthew McConaughey to Farrah Fawcett. Now it wants to produce those films, too.