New Jersey Is Building A Billion-Dollar Studio Production Complex

As Gov. Phil Murphy continues his push to woo film and television production to New Jersey, the state economic development authority today approved a partnership with a $1+ billion studio complex including 23 sound stages set to rise in the Bergen Point neighborhood of Bayonne, New Jersey at the site of a former Texaco oil refinery.

The project will break ground this fall, said Arpad Busson, the New York-based French financier whose Togus Urban Renewal is spearheading the project along with Rothschild in the UK and New York-based Moore Group. He said construction will take two years. Called 1888 Studios, after the year New Jersey-native Thomas Edison filed a patent for the motion picture camera, the 1.5 million square feet structure designed by architecture firm Gensler will look to evoke imagery of Golden Age Hollywood, spanning 55 acres and including comprehensive on-site production services, security, and a waterfront park and promenade accessible to the public.

This is the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (NJEDA) first so-called Film-Lease Partner Facility, a designation that allows enhanced tax credit for productions shooting there for above-the-line costs. The production tax credit (which runs through 2039) is a competitive 30%-35%, with an extra bump for diversity.

The credits have been attracting business. Great Point Studios is building Lionsgate Studios Newark, after the Robert Halmi-led venture’s successful Lionsgate Studios Yonkers project. That project, with five sound stages and full production services, received NJEDA’s first Studio Partner Designation and is set to open in fall of 2025..

Netflix is planning to build a circa $900 million production studio on a nearly 300-acre parcel that’s the site of the former Fort Monmouth army base.

Busson tells Deadline that, like other financiers and developers, he was struck by the lack of sound stages to serve production when it exploded in recent years led by Netflix then other steamers. While output has cooled a bit he believes there’s will still be demand in areas with good tax credits and a strong crew base – developed over years in this case to serve New York City production. He said he believes the new studio when finished will be the biggest in the state, the tri-state area, and the Northeast.

Conversation with anchor tenants and others can start now, he said. Busson, who was engaged to Uma Thurman years some ago before the couple split, has dabbled in film financing, the last project being Walter Salles 2012 On The Road, an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s iconic Beat Generation novel.

“The increase in film studio development in New Jersey is a testament to the state’s best-in-the-region
incentives and wealth of local talent, helping transition the Garden State into the northeastern capital of film and entertainment,” said Gov. Murphy. “The designation of 1888 Studios as a Film-Lease Partner Facility will open the door for more production companies to film in New Jersey, helping to support local small businesses and communities and create thousands of good-paying jobs.”

“Governor Phil Murphy’s revival of New Jersey’s Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program has made the
state a hub of film and media production, attracting hundreds of millions in revenue and creating thousands of good-paying jobs,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Today’s designation of 1888 Studios as a Film-Lease Partner Facility highlights how the state’s generous incentives, breadth of local talent, and diverse filming locations are attracting the development of world-class studio spaces, transforming regional economies.”

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