Film industry heads to Near Southside
A well-known Fort Worth-based production house and a longtime Fort Worth real estate developer are seeking exemptions from a little used state incentive to renovate an aging building on the city's Near Southside for commercial and film production studios.
Red Productions, founded by Red Sanders in 2005, and developer Craig Kelly, principal of Kelly Capital Partners, are asking the city to support a Media Production Development Zone, an incentive approved by the Legislature in 2009 and administered by the Texas Film Commission. The zone allows for a two-year sales and use tax exemption for the construction, maintenance, expansion, improvement or renovation of a media production facility.
If approved at the state level, the incentive would exempt the companies from paying more than $45,000 in city sales tax and more than $141,000 in state sales tax over the next two years.
Robert Sturns, Fort Worth's economic development director, said Tuesday that the project dovetails with the city's Economic Development Strategic Plan. He said he's been working with Sanders and Kelly on the application for several months.
"Part of what that vision and that goal is tied to is becoming a hub for creative businesses," Sturns said. "Any opportunity, what we like to call a community of choice, you have to be able to attract your talented workforce and your talented workforce is attracted to these types of initiatives that bring about a vibrant and engaged community."
The Fort Worth Film Commission said the commercial and film production industry has generated a $12 million economic impact on the city in the past two years.
Jessica Christopherson, head of the Fort Worth Film Commission, said creating the zone and the proposed project will only add to Fort Worth's film- friendly atmosphere.
"The amenities and studio space in this plan will be a valuable resource in efforts to attract more film, television and commercial-related projects," she said.
A proposed zone first has to be approved by the city or county body. The only other MPDZ program is the city of Austin, which covers the entire city limits. Red Productions also has a Los Angeles studio.
The zone would cover the boundaries of the Tax Increment Finance District No. 4, commonly known as the Near Southside TIF. That boundary is roughly Interstate 30 on the north, Evans/Kentucky avenues on the east, the Fort Worth & Western Railroad tracks on the west and Magnolia Avenue on the south.
Red Productions and Kelly have formed a partnership, KCPFII Bryan Llc., to renovate the former Crouch Supply Co. property at 305 S. Main St. Red Productions plans to move from Foch and West 7th Street and occupy about 7,600 square feet of the building. The building is a part of Kelly's overall $4 million Main+Broad redevelopment of several historic properties.
Red Productions, which has gained national recognition in commercial and film production, said it plans to spend a little more than $1.1 million on renovations and equipment for its studios and expects to increase his staff to 15 employees from 10 in the next two years.
Kelly said Sanders will also spend $1.2 million to develop Backlot Studios, which will have will have edit bays, office space, conference rooms; open co-working space for media-related and creative companies.