Despite the diverse nature of Filmport, the venture is clearlyfocused on its celluloid center. Besides 500,000 sf of studiospace, the surrounding commercial elements outside the gates areenvisioned as home for post-production companies, union and guildoffices, film schools and ancillary restaurants and retail. Inbacking the $275 million undertaking, GE Real Estate GM Alex Siebercalls Filmport an "innovative, well-conceived" project, addingthat, "we have developed considerable respect and appreciation forall involved in the deal." That roster includes TFS and itspartners, the Rose Corp. and ComWeb Corp., as well as TEDCO andsupporters Lytton Financial and CIBC World Markets. "This team willsurely continue to be a part of a very positive venture for thecity of Toronto," says Sieber.

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Upon securing the GE loan, TFS announced it will break groundnext spring on Filmport's initial structure, a $50 million officebuilding that will serve as headquarters to TFS and house relatedoperations for other film-oriented firms. The architect is UK-baseddesigner Will Alsop and Quadrangle Architects of Toronto, whosefuturistic concept includes a curved curtain wall exterior and280,000-sf of interactive space in an 11-story frame. "As masterplanning architects for Filmport, we are thrilled to becollaborating with Will Alsop on this key building," Quadrangleprincipal Les Klein says in a release unveiling the design.

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Supporters of Ontario's film sector trace its lineage back acentury, and Toronto has been a popular option for both televisionand the big screen, serving as the backdrop for such movies asCheaper by the Dozen, Cinderella Man, the Sentinel and Fever Pitch,a film about the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series. Morerecently, however, as countries and individual states includingMassachusetts heavily recruited film work by offering tax breaksand other programs, Ontario slipped as a preferred destination,especially for films whose budgets exceeded $100 million due to alack of suitable facilities. In response, Filmport calls for sixsound stages, including a 45,000-sf building being touted as thelargest purpose-built sound stage on the continent. The remainingsound stages will run between 12,000 and 30,000 sf, providing whatsupporters says is the largest cluster of studio space outside ofLos Angeles.

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Based in Stamford, CT, GE Real Estate is supporting Filmport viaits Business Property Division, an entity whose single-tenantfinancing products include conventional mortgages, sale/leasebacks,and the construction-to-permanent loan offered to Filmport. Canadais seen as an area of growth for the division, says Sieber, and GECapital has doubled the project team there to extend itsactivities.

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