Effingham IDA votes to officially end movie studio deal

Effingham IDA votes to officially end movie studio deal

EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - The plan to build a movie studio in Effingham County is formally a thing of the past.

The Effingham Industrial Development Authority approved the termination agreement with the parent company of Moon River Studios.

Moon River signed the termination agreement earlier this month, but Thursday's unanimous vote by the IDA board to accept the agreement means the deal is now officially "a wrap."

"We knew that they weren't going to be able to meet their requirements - as far as the criteria that was in the bond documents - as early as late last summer," said Effingham Industrial Development Authority CEO John Henry.

According to the lease agreement, Moon River's end of the deal was to create hundreds of jobs and invest millions of dollars in property within five years. But by last year, it was clear the company wasn't hitting those milestones to stay on track.

"We had a lot of hope in the project, and we've said all along we were going to be optimistically cautious about moving forward with the project. And once the agreements were signed, all we could do was see if they were going to meet those thresholds," said Henry.

By the time it was clear they weren't meeting those benchmarks, Effingham County had already spent $200,000 in tax-payer money on broker and attorney fees.

Henry told WTOC they recovered $130,000 of that investment in the engineering that Moon River Studios paid for, an effort that now makes the industrial property more marketable.

Plus, he says that hasn't been the only benefit from this whole ordeal.

"With all the publicity we've seen from the project, it has drawn a lot of people from this area with their interest. I've got people now that have been following this that are interested in the property," said Henry.

Henry would not comment on who or how many parties are potentially interested in the property. He says despite the disappointment in how this deal turned out, he's confident something else will eventually come along now that the property is back on the market.

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