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NORWALK, CT-The Connecticut Film Center has signed a lease for a “substantial portion” of 345 Ely Ave., a 122-000-sf warehouse building in South Norwalk. The building’s primary use will to serve as sound stages and support facilities for the motion picture industry. Locally based Spinnaker Real Estate Partners LLC and the Connecticut Film Center in a joint venture acquired the former corporate headquarters of leather goods manufacturer Swank Inc. from TMC Ely LLC, a New York City-based firm, for $9.5 million.

The property had sat vacant for about three years ago when Swank relocated its corporate headquarters to Taunton, MA. The building was completed in 1974 and renovated in 2002. No financial details of the lease transaction were released.

Commenting on the deal at its newly acquired property, Clayton H. Fowler, founding partner of Spinnaker Real Estate Partners says, “I’m proud to help attract the motion picture industry to South Norwalk and look forward to a continuing and deep relationship with this new employment center in the city.”

Kevin Segalla, president of the Stamford-based Connecticut Film Center adds, “this facility is an important milestone in our quest to build the motion picture industry in Connecticut.” He says that the firm hopes to make an announcement soon on additional new facilities in Fairfield and New Haven counties. The Connecticut Film Center also has on the drawing boards a plan to develop a production/post production facility somewhere in the state. The company, founded a year-and-a-half ago, plans to retain its 40,000-sf corporate headquarters space at 76 Progress Dr. in Stamford.

The Connecticut Film Center is the leading provider of production services and tax-incentive-based financing for the motion picture and television industries in Connecticut. The firm is providing services for a number of motion pictures in production that have or are filming scenes in the Fairfield County area, including: “In Bloom,” starring Uma Thurman; “What Just Happened”, starring Robert DeNiro, Sean Penn and Bruce Willis; “Old Dogs”, starring John Travolta and Robin Williams; and “Revolutionary Road”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Earlier this month on the set of “Old Dogs” that was filming in Redding, Gov. M. Jodi Rell touted several new state tax credit programs that have drawn a host of movie productions to the state. The governor noted that during the six months prior to the first tax credit bill being signed into law a year ago, less than $1 million was spent on filmmaking in Connecticut. In the year since the tax credits went into effect, more than $450 million has been spent in connection with film productions in the Nutmeg State.

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