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TRENTON, NJ-Both California-based Manex Entertainment and the Trenton Area YMCA had their sights set on the old Roebling manufacturing complex near Sovereign Bank Arena here, the former for a new production center and the latter for a new $10 million facility. Now, Manex will get the site, but the “Y” will get a place of its own as well.

In an agreement approved late Monday night, the Y agreed to give up the development rights, which will now go to Manex. In exchange, the Y will get back the $400,000 it originally paid for those rights, as well as some $350,000 in matching grants to be used in developing its own new facility on another tract nearby. The organization will pay an estimated $370,000 for the old Keating industrial tract.

What Manex Entertainment has in mind for the Roebling site is a 200,000-sf movie production complex that will generate between 500 and 700 jobs. The company will also build an 800-car parking garage on-site.

The way the transaction will work is that the development rights will first be transferred to the Mercer County Improvement Authority, which will turn around and sell the tract to Manex for $2.5 million. The payments will be stretched out over five years, and the proceeds will be divided between the city and the MCIA.

Manex is a movie production complex that has turned out a number of “B” movies, including “What Dreams May Come,” “The Matrix,” “Romeo Must Die” and “To The Max.” The company is perhaps best known for the special effects that have been produced by its engineers for a variety of movies – they’ve won some Oscars. Manex also has an online entertainment component.

One of the issues in the deal is that Manex came close to bankruptcy last year. Indeed, at one point, the company was sued by the City of Alameda, CA for $500,000 in back rent. City and county officials here tried to allay the financial fears after the city council approved the deal. Local officials say they’ve built financial protection into the arrangement, although details weren’t disclosed.

“We’re confident that the company’s past troubles are behind them, and that this deal is a good one,” Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer said at the city council meeting. “I’m very excited about this project, which helps our city in numerous ways.”

A five-year timeline has been projected by Manex, which would relocate all of its operations here from California. Total cost of the project hasn’t been disclosed, but city officials estimate that its assessed value at completion will be in the $30 million range.

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