By Christine Legere
February 25, 2009
PLYMOUTH – Until now, Plymouth Rock Studios has been little more than a vague vision of a “Hollywood East” being promoted by a team of California film executives interested in building a mega production campus in America’s Hometown. But details of the $422 million facility, which skeptics doubted would survive the economic downturn, are becoming more concrete.
“Funding for the project was tougher than we thought it would be,” Plymouth Rock Studios executive Earl Lestz said yesterday during a presentation at the studio site for a Globe editorial panel. “But we think we’ll make our schedule.”
Rock officials say they are holding the 240-acre Waverly Oaks golf course site with a “seven-figure deposit,” and they expect to close on the land deal in July. The initial plan was to pass papers on the property at the end of 2008.
The target date for opening remains some time in 2010.
Although it is too early to book for movie production, company officials say they are rapidly filling the campus’s million square feet of building space. “We already have the amenity village 80 percent booked, and we’ve got a couple spectacular restaurants,” said Plymouth Rock executive Bill Wynne. The village will feature commercial operations and services, including pharmacies, cleaners, restaurants, hair stylists, a hotel, and more.
Other areas on the film campus are at least 60 percent booked, Wynne said.
Among the future tenants is the MIT Center for Future Storytelling, a graduate program focusing on moviemaking in an increasingly digitized world that will offer a satellite location at the Rock. And the New England Institute of Art also will open a satellite campus there, Susan Lane, the institute’s president, said yesterday at the meeting.
The initial construction phase, set to begin this May or early June, will focus on infrastructure, including an $8 million access road from Route 3 to the studio. Plymouth Rock is awaiting a response from the state to its application for $50 million in state funding to help with those costs.
The company expects to spend $200 million on labor during the construction phase, using union workers. At build-out, the studio predicts it will offer 2,500 jobs on-site and generate another 1,500 in the area, in services related to the studio.
Plymouth Rock has won financial support from C Change Investments LLC, a venture-capital firm based in Cambridge that invests in environmentally friendly and energy-efficient projects. The studio is expected to be certified by the US Green Building Council for its dedication to reduced use of energy and water and reduction of harmful emissions, Plymouth Rock officials said. “It will probably, for the first time, define the meaning of sustainability,” C Change official John Picard said.
Christine Legere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org