- Netflix wants to convert the former New Jersey army base into a film and TV production facility.
- The Hollywood broadcasting giant says it could create between 1,400 and 2,200 jobs annually.
- Netflix will have at least 18 months before the property closes and construction begins.
OCEANPORT, NJ — Netflix is buying a former New Jersey Army base to create one of the largest production facilities in the world.
On Wednesday, the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) voted to enter into a sales contract with the streaming giant to purchase Fort Monmouth’s Mega Parcel for $55 million. FMERA is the government agency responsible for the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth, which was closed by the US Army in 2011.
Netflix said it will invest more than $850 million to build a state-of-the-art production facility — one with 12 soundstages and attached production and backstage space, similar in size and scope to its New Mexico studios — to produce TV series and movies, including originals. Production will also occasionally take place on location in scenic backdrops around the state.
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“This will be a major focal point for us and will be the center of our productions on the East Coast,” said Rajeev Dalal, director of content and studio affairs at Netflix.
The economic impact of Netflix
Netflix estimates that it will generate between $7.4 billion and $8.9 billion in production over the next 20 years of production and construction. The value added to the New Jersey economy as a direct result of this activity during the same period is estimated to be between $3.8 billion and $4.6 billion.
During the peak of construction, Netflix estimates the project will contribute up to 3,500 jobs. Once the studio is fully operational, it’s estimated that Netflix production could contribute between 1,400 and 2,200 jobs annually.
In addition, Netflix expects there will be a significant multiplier effect as the production hub can unlock private sector capital investment in nearby industrial infrastructure and businesses, including post-production facilities and services and other digital facilities and services.
New Jersey is emerging as the center of Hollywood
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy called the investment transformative and a cornerstone of the state’s efforts to create a thriving industry, he said in a post-approval press release. In total, New Jersey was home to 725 productions in 2021, including 68 feature films and 132 TV series.
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“As a result of spending nearly a billion dollars on film production, New Jersey will solidify its position as an emerging national leader in the television and film industries,” said Murphy.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority said the annual report of the state Film and Television Commission found that film and television production in New Jersey broke all previous records in 2021, with the industry spending more than half a billion dollars in the state and creating more than 5,500 jobs.
Why did Netflix choose New Jersey over Georgia?
A couple of months ago, Netflix jumped into protocol when it announced it was the chosen show in a pool of several developers vying for Mega Parcel in Fort Monmouth, a 300-acre parcel in parts of Eatontown and Oceanport.
In April 2021, Murphy wrote a letter to major Hollywood studios such as Disney, Warner Bros. and Netflix in an attempt to lure them away from Georgia after a row over changes to voter registration laws there.
Murphy offered the companies competitive tax breaks as part of a $14.5 billion economic stimulus package that would “make the Garden State as attractive as Georgia to attract film and television production companies,” Murphy wrote in the letter.
Murphy promoted the New Jersey Film and Digital Media Tax Credit Program, which he signed in 2018 to encourage film and television studios and productions to choose New Jersey.
While Netflix’s ears were certainly perturbed by Murphy’s pre-earth tax incentives, land was, after all, one of its biggest selling points. Dalal said it is not easy to find “a large amount of land” near a large urban location such as New York City.
Netflix has been drawn to the New Jersey workforce as well, which Dalal says includes top-notch crews and a vibrant creative sector that the company intends to capitalize on and further enrich.
Will Netflix keep its existing studios open after Fort Monmouth is built?
Even after the Fort Monmouth facility is built, Dellal said the company’s studios in Georgia, Toronto and Brooklyn will remain open.
“We are excited to continue and expand our significant investment in New Jersey and North America,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer, said in a prepared statement.
When will the studio construction start?
We still have a long way to go before the streaming giant actually builds studios in the old fort. Netflix has a 36-month window to complete due diligence on the site and obtain local approvals before closing the property.
I have seen developers walk away from many properties in Al Hosn during this due diligence period. Developers twice proposed plans for residential and commercial developments on the 80-acre Parcel B, but failed to close on site.
The “unique” historic property will keep the spaces open to the public
The site is huge and faces many challenges, not the least of which is the abandoned buildings that will have to be demolished. Mega Parcel is the largest FMERA has put up for sale since it began redeveloping the fort over a decade ago.
The property, which went up for public bidding in June, consists of several redevelopment areas and is valued at $55.4 million.
Dalal said that Netflix would dedicate the entire site to the production facility. There are areas on the plot, such as the parade grounds, that should remain open spaces, as was specified in the fort’s reuse plan, which was drawn up just before the fort closed. Dalal said the final website design will likely go through several drafts.
“We will do our best to preserve the monuments, the flag squares and the parade grounds. There will be some walking trails. It’s a really unique site,” he said.
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