If you ever had any question or doubt about the impact the film and TV industry is having on Georgia, and especially the Atlanta area, this should end it. Another major studio project has just been announced.
Third Rail Studios to Open at Former GM Site in Doraville
The Integral Group, which acquired the GM site last year, is partnering with Capstone South Properties to develop “Third Rail Studios” on a six-acre section of the 165-acre development, located at I-285 and I-85 and INSIDE the Perimeter or ITP.
The first phase of Third Rail Studios will take an existing 130,000-square-foot building that will be retrofitted into film and television production studios. Included will be 60,000 square feet of sound stages and 20,000 square feet of production support mill shops, administrative offices and related vendor spaces.
From my knowledge of the site, this will take place in The Yards Gateway section, as you can see on the site plan below.
When fully-built out, Third Rail Studios will be a 270,000-square-foot-facility.
“It’s something everybody can get excited about because it provides a big spark,” said Eric Pinckney, Integral’s project executive for Assembly.
The studios are expected to open for business by the end of the year, said Christopher Martorella, Integral’s president of commercial real estate.
“It’s something that can happen very quickly because there’s an existing place that lends itself well to what we want to do,” Martorella said.
The film studio is the first major project to be announced for the Assembly development, which is being marketed and presented as several different neighborhood districts. Plans call for an extension of Park Avenue from Buford Highway, under the Doraville MARTA station directly into ASSEMBLY.
Despite the plethora of movie studios planned or open in Atlanta, there is pent-up demand for more film and television production facilities, said Egbert Perry, CEO of Integral. Having Third Rail Studios as part of the Assembly development will add a “sexy, funky, cool” flavor to that part of the GM site.
“Third Rail Studios” refers to the three rail lines that previously served the GM Doraville assembly plant, as well as the creative energy in the media production community.
The now unused rail lines will be preserved and integrated within the landscape, much like New York City’s Highline, which is a very popular destination. The studios will anchor the “Yards District” portion of the site, a funky, modern industrial”ish” destination for dining, entertainment, parks, art, retail, makers, and other businesses. Think Midtown West…only on steroids?
“We are still way below what is needed to support the industry as it exists today,” Perry said of the new studio project. “It doesn’t begin to address the existing demand, not to mention any growth in demand.”
Lee Thomas, director of the Georgia Film Commission, confirmed Perry’s statement. “Georgia’s film industry is at an all-time high with 39 productions currently filming across the state, many of which are long-term tenants in our existing soundstages,” Thomas said.
The design for Third Rail Studios is led by Janson Tsai, a division of the architectural design firm Perkins Eastman (Of Note…Perkins Eastman is the firm that designed the entire ASSEMBLY site for Integral). Previous work includes design of Kaufman/Astoria Film Studios and Steiner Film Studios in New York, as well as projects with Imagine Films, CBS Television,NBC Universal, ESPN, Disney, and Sony — among others.
“We are creating an urban node in the heart of DeKalb County in a way that is not just an island unto itself but one that in fact connects to many other smaller urban nodes,” Perry said. “That the intent. It has more multimodal attributes than probably any other site in the region… Assembly is truly a place where everything comes together. It actually is very much an appropriate name.”