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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Plymouth Rock Studios Announces $550m Loan to Start Construction

September 24, 2009 12:00 PM
By Christine Legere, Globe Correspondent

A team of California film executives, who came to Plymouth two years ago with a plan to build the first full-fledged production studio on the East Coast, is ready to make good on that promise.

Plymouth Rock Studios announced today that it has secured a $550 million construction loan from an international lender in Florida, Prosperity International LLC.

Prosperity International, a multi-billion-dollar firm based in Orlando, Fla., has been involved in projects across the globe, including the Caribbean, Europe, Western and South Africa, Latin America and the United States.

Sometimes the company arranges financing for large infrastructure projects. In the case of the studio project, Prosperity International will be the direct lender. The first payment to Plymouth Rock is set for November.

With money in hand, the studio company’s next step is purchase of the Waverly Oaks Golf Course, the 240-acre target site that carries a price tag of $16.5 million. The deal is set to close in November, about the same time construction on a $50 million access road to the facility will get underway. Studio construction will begin in earnest in the spring and the facility will open for business in the spring of 2012.

The studio complex will consist of 14 sound stages, a 10-acre back lot, production and post-production facilities, a theater and amenity village. Planners also expect to give a ground lease for some major hotel there. The facility will allow producers to make movies and television shows from start to finish, right on site -- something never before possible on the East Coast.

“I think it speaks to the strength and vision David Kirkpatrick and Earl Lestz put together,” said Plymouth Rock’s real estate partner Bill Wynne of the two top company officials who came up with the studio plan. “This is a seriously large deal in a terrible economy.”

While Plymouth Rock officials had thought the project might have to be built in phases, they now plan to construct the entire complex, including 1.3 million square feet of building space, over two years. The educational facility will be the only component notready for the opening.

Plymouth Rock has spent about $11 million to date on engineering studies and plans needed to secure local permits as well as on material required for its 1,000-page environmental impact study.

Before construction on the studio can begin, the state must sign off on the impact report submitted by Plymouth Rock officials on Sept. 15. The public comment period on the EIR will close Oct. 30. Wynne hopes state environmental officials will approve the report before the end of this year.

While the local Planning Board has already signed off on a so-called “master site plan” for the project, more specific information on each of its components will be required as building moves forward.

“This whole project is going to come to life in the next month,” Wynne said. “We obviously had to focus on the capital. Now that we have access to the money, we can start to implement the visions, goals and dreams we’ve talked about.”

The studio will also be LEED-certified, keeping its carbon footprint to a minimum. Plymouth Rock has estimated the studio will create over 2,000 high-income jobs and promises to provide “the infrastructure for sustained growth of the entertainment industry in New England.”


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