Film Production Center The Fields Studios Rises in Chicago
Chicago is about to join the growing list of cities where new soundstage construction will boost the local entertainment economy. The Fields Studios – the city’s first purpose-built and, to date, largest film production complex – will open in the first quarter of 2024.
Owned and developed by real estate firm Knickpoint Ventures, the new campus occupies the site of the former warehouse and distribution center for the city’s legendary Marshall Field’s department store and its retailers across the U.S. It includes nine soundstages on two lots totaling 132,000 square feet of stage space and over 350,000 square feet of creative and production offices, plus mill and support space, on over 20 acres in Chicago’s Northwest Side.
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“This project is another key landmark in our growing film and TV scene, which reached record revenue numbers in 2022,” said Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. “We’re telling important stories… with union labor with an eye to ensuring historically disadvantaged Chicagoans are given an opportunity to get their start in the industry through workforce development programs designed to increase diversity.”
In March, Pritzker signed a 10-year extension of the state’s long-standing production tax credit, which now covers some above-the-line costs. “This year I’ve committed another million dollars in our budget to expanding this important fund,” he added.
The new studio development is part of an adaptive resuse of the former Fields property, which also includes a mix of retail, residences and office space,
Each production stage at The Fields Studios is expected to create hundreds of union jobs. At capacity, the facility should impact the local economy by driving nearly 12,000 production-related jobs with approximately $1.3 billion of economic impact in its first five years, per the developers.
Zain Koita, Founder and Managing Partner of Knickpoint Ventures, is confident the new studio will thrive despite the prevailing economic headwinds now faced by the entertainment industry. “The economy as a whole is reorganizing itself, and entertainment industry is no different,” he says, adding that the industry’s present difficulties are “just a blip on the radar; we’re long-term oriented.”
Further, Koita believes, that film production in Illinois is “underappreciated and underinvested” and that the state’s tax credit “has gone largely unutilized because there are very few studios that are up and operating that can house major productions.” The new project will fill that gap, he says.
Altogether, the Fields Studios will include nine sound stages, eight NC-30 rated sound stages, ranging from 12,000 to 18,000 square feet, plus a 5,000-square-foot stage for commercial shoots, music videos, and other smaller productions. This marks the largest combination of soundstages in Chicago.
The studio campus will have approximately 150,000 square feet of support and mill space for surface-level base camp areas for production vehicles and support space for production departments, dressing rooms and surrounding land for future back lot construction.
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