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PHILADELPHIA- Santa Monica, CA-based Pacifica Ventures has entered into negotiations for a site that would accommodate a one-million-sf studio complex, beginning with a $75-million opening phase of approximately 500,000 sf. An anonymous source confirms that, in an unrelated agreement, another $100-million film studio complex is planned at the former Logan Square shopping center site in Norristown.

Decisions regarding development of both film studios come on the heels of a law passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Ed Rendell that offers tax credits for up to 25% of the production costs incurred in this state. It covers the production of films, TV shows and commercials intended for national distribution as long as 60% of the total costs of the projects are incurred in the state.

Pacifica Ventures has identified potential sites in Bucks, Delaware and Philadelphia counties, and Hal Katersky, the company’s owner, tells GlobeSt.com, “we’re in negotiations for our first choice.” He declined to disclose the location, but says he plans to break ground on an initial phase by year-end or early in 2008 and expects to open a year later.

“Phase one will be between 400,000 sf and 500,000 sf,” Katersky says, “and contain about six stages.” The estimated cost is $75 million. There is no timeline for construction of the second phase, “but this complex will be very similar to our Albuquerque facility and aggregate over a million sf,” he says, estimating the cost of the second phase at above $75 million.

The tax credit legislation “was critical,” he says, because it benefits the studio’s potential customers. Pacifica Ventures will own and operate the facility and lease it in contracts that encompass the use of sound stages, office space and equipment, such as forklifts “with each rent rate based on the size and duration of the contract,” he says. “Film producers don’t sign up before the building is complete and until a couple of months before they go into production,” he adds.

Of reports that another film studio is planned, he says, “certainly more availability is better. When you have more facilities in an area, you become a center for the industry.”

“We have been working with Pacifica Ventures for two years because we know that a major studio facility will attract feature films and television series and create thousands of new jobs for our region,” says Sharon Pinkenson, director of the locally based Greater Philadelphia Film Office, in a statement. “The Delaware Valley will become a top filmmaking destination.”

According to a source familiar with the Norristown project, it is being developed in a joint venture among two area film companies and Develcom, a Bellmawr, NJ-based real estate developer. The film company partners are Wolfington Productions, an independent production company based in King of Prussia, and Eagleville, PA-based Feverpitch Pictures, which produces feature films. Calls to Jeffrey Erb, CEO of Feverpitch, and to Develcom were not returned by deadline.

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