- Netflix wants to transform a former New Jersey Army base into a film and TV production facility.
- The Hollywood streaming giant says it could create between 1,400 and 2,200 jobs annually.
- Netflix would have at least 18 months before closing on the property and starting construction.
OCEANPORT, N.J. – 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 buy Fort Monmouth’s Mega Parcel for $55 million. FMERA is the state agency in charge of redeveloping Fort Monmouth, which was shuttered by the U.S. Army in 2011.
Netflix said it will invest upwards of $850 million to build a state-of-art production facility– one with 12 sound stages, ancillary production spaces and back lots, similar in size and scope to its New Mexico studios – to produce TV series and films, including originals. Production will also occasionally go on location at scenic backdrops around the state.
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“This will be a key focal point for us and it will be our East Coast production hub,” said Rajiv Dalal, Netflix’s director of content & studio affairs.
Netflix’s economic impact
Netflix estimates it will generate between $7.4 billion and $8.9 billion in output over the next 20 years for production and construction. The value added to New Jersey’s economy as a direct result of that activity during that same period would be between $3.8 billion and $4.6 billion, it estimates.
During peak construction, Netflix estimates the project will contribute as many as 3,500 jobs. Once the studio is fully operational, it estimates that Netflix production could contribute between 1,400 and 2,200 jobs annually.
In addition, Netflix expects there to be a considerable ripple effect as the production hub could spark private sector capital investment into adjacent industry infrastructure and businesses, including post-production and other digital facilities and services.
New Jersey emerges as hub for Hollywood
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called the investment transformative and a cornerstone in the state’s efforts to create a thriving industry, he said in a news release issued after the approval. In total, New Jersey was home to 725 productions in 2021, including 68 feature films and 132 television series.
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“As a result of nearly a billion dollars in film production spending, New Jersey will further solidify its status as an emerging national leader in the television and film industries,” Murphy said.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority said the annual report by the state’s Film and Television Commission found that film and television production in New Jersey shattered all previous records in 2021, with the industry spending more than a half a billion dollars in the state and creating more than 5,500 jobs.
Why did Netflix choose New Jersey over Georgia?
Two months ago, Netflix jumped protocol when it announced it was the chosen bid in a pool of several developers vying for Fort Monmouth’s Mega Parcel, a 300-acre parcel in parts of Eatontown and Oceanport.
In April 2021, Murphy wrote a letter to major Hollywood studios like Disney, Warner Bros., and Netflix in an attempt to lure them away from Georgia after a fight over changes in voter registration laws there.
Murphy offered the companies competitive tax breaks as part of a $14.5 billion economic incentive package that “makes the Garden State just as competitive as Georgia to attract film and television production businesses,” Murphy wrote in the letter.
Murphy touted the New Jersey Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program, which he signed into law in 2018 to encourage film and television studios and productions to choose New Jersey.
While Netflix’s ears were certainly piqued by the tax incentives Murphy dangled before it, in the end, one of the biggest selling points, was the land. Dalal said its not easy to find a “large swath of land” near a major metropolitan location such as New York City.
Netflix was attracted to New Jersey’s workforce, too, which Dalal says has top-notch crews and a vibrant creative sector that the company intends to tap into and further enrich.
Will Netflix keep its existing studios open after Fort Monmouth is built?
Dalal said the company’s studios in Georgia, Toronto and Brooklyn will stay open even after the Fort Monmouth facility is built.
“We’re thrilled to continue and expand our significant investment in New Jersey and North America,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix Co-CEO and chief content officer in a prepared statement.
When will studio construction begin?
There’s still a long road ahead before the streaming giant physically builds studios at the old fort. Netflix has a 36-month window to complete its due diligence on the site and acquire local approvals before closing on the property.
It has seen developers walk away from various properties at the fort during the due diligence period. Twice developers proposed plans for residential and commercial developments in the 80-acre Parcel B, but failed to close on the site.
The ‘unique’ historical property will keep spaces open to the public
The site is enormous and comes with many challenges, not the least of which is derelict buildings that will have to be knocked down. The Mega Parcel is the largest FMERA has offered for sale since it began the process redeveloping the fort over a decade ago.
The property, which was put put to public bid in June, consists of several redevelopment districts and was appraised at $55.4 million.
Dalal said Netflix will dedicate the entire site to the production facility. There are areas in the parcel, such as the parade grounds, that must remain open spaces, as was laid out in the fort’s re-use plan, which was drafted just prior to the fort’s closing. Dalal said their final site design will most likely go through several drafts.
“We’re going to do the best we can to preserve monuments, flag grounds, parade grounds. There’s going to be some walking trails. It’s a really unique site,” he said.