BiS: BusinessInSavannah.com - Business news for the creative coast.
In Case You Missed It

Meddin Studios to move into former Citi Trends warehouse

Savannah’s gone from film location to film destination since entrepreneurs Nick Gant and Jon Foster opened their soundstage and digital media production services business 32 months ago.

Twelve movie projects and dozens of commercial and television production companies have utilized Meddin Studios. The facility’s “pitch to post” capabilities have resulted in a sizable economic impact, as filmmakers have stayed in town to do work they would otherwise have to perform elsewhere in places such as Atlanta, New York City or Hollywood.

Yet the facility has limitations in the minds of major motion picture producers and other large-scale production types. Specifically, Meddin is too small at 22,000 square feet. And the studios’ three soundstages and post-production facilities are housed in an out-of-the-way location on Louisville Road.

Come next spring, Meddin will leave those issues on the cutting room floor.

Meddin Studios is set to relocate to the former Citi Trends distribution warehouse, located next to the Greyhound bus station downtown on Fahm Street. Meddin has the 2.64-acre property under contract for purchase and will move forward with the deal once the Savannah Historic District Board of Review blesses the proposed renovation plans.

The board will review that petition at next Wednesday’s monthly meeting. It is currently listed as a consent item on the board’s agenda, meaning the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission staff has no issues with the plans and could approve them with no discussion.

Gant and Foster on Friday listed the Louisville Road property for sale or lease.

The Fahm Street facility will quintuple Meddin’s total space. The studio will include five sound stages, the largest of which will measure 20,000 square feet, big enough to meet the demands of even the largest movie studios. The new studio’s smallest stage will be as large as the largest stage in the current location.

The new Meddin Studios also will include 20,000 square feet of production space and 60,000 square feet of office space.

“There is a certain number people have in mind when it comes to space,” Gant said. “We’ve been blessed with some great projects, but every project we’ve had has been relationship driven. Having a 20,000-square-foot soundstage will get us national notice.”

A larger facility has been on many local wish lists for more than a year.

Jay Self, the city’s director of film services, told Savannah City Council in November 2011 a sound stage and production facilities capable of handling feature films or a TV series “would increase tenfold” the type of projects Savannah would be able to recruit.

Self declined comment when contacted Friday regarding Meddin’s plans.

Meddin’s expansion was hailed as a potential boon for the local economy, said Trip Tollison, acting CEO of the Savannah Economic Development Authority. The group has targeted the digital media industry as a key sector for Savannah’s future economic growth.

“The opportunity for studios like Meddin Studios to offer an even wider range of facilities and services, coupled with the beautiful backdrop of Savannah, means we truly have the opportunity to make Savannah a hub for the film, television and digital media industry, which means more projects coming to Savannah and creating, growing and attracting quality jobs,” Tollison said.

Gant and Foster envisioned a 20,000-square-foot soundstage as the next phase of their operation from the beginning. They showed construction plans for a large soundstage to be built on their Louisville Road property weeks after the facility opened in December 2010.

Environmental issues tied to a neighboring property prompted Meddin’s leadership to look elsewhere. Mitigation and construction schedules made building a soundstage an 18- to 24-month project, Gant said. Retrofitting the Citi Trends building, by comparison, will take two months.

“Every month we play around is another project lost,” Gant said.

The Fahm Street warehouse’s proximity to downtown and hotels also appeals to Meddin. The new studio would be within walking distance of the dozen hotels located on downtown’s westside.

The financing for the project is in place, according to Gant, and a combination of bank loans, a Small Business Administration loan and private investment will make the expanded facility a reality.

The next step for Meddin Studios involves expanding partnerships with local educational institutions, from area universities to the public schools, as well as government. The larger facility will provide more “recurring revenue” and allow Gant to focus more on community outreach and less on drumming up business.

“We started this business wanting education to be a big part of it,” Gant said. “We can’t wait to grow that.”

Additional Photos

Photos: 

Comments

In Case You Missed It