GA Representative looking to build film studio at former Coastal Empire Fairgrounds

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The old Coastal Empire Fairground, now City of Savannah property, could host a film production studio.

Savannah native and Georgia State Representative J. Craig Gordon has $2.5 million already raised to complete phase one of Aeroscope Studios and buy the 15 acres of land needed for the project.

Aeroscope Studios will be a full-service studio complex for film and television if the purchase is approved, and will utilize the existing buildings instead of demolishing them.

The proposal lists all the potential benefits putting this kind of industry here can have on the surrounding neighborhood.

It's touted as organic, not funded by large corporations or banks rather by a local owner, Rep. Gordon, who grew up in Savannah's 5th District.

Rep. Gordon came to Savannah Attorney Charles Bowen about two years ago with the idea of building a full-service studio complex for film and TV.

"When the city purchased the fairground space and we took someone out there, a production coordinator, people within the industry, experienced, to look at it... this guy with over 40 years of experience said that he had never seen any land more perfectly situated for a production facility than those fairgrounds," said Bowen.

In addition to job creation, Aeroscope Studios would establish an apprenticeship program, partnering with Savannah State University and Savannah Tech. While still in the early stages, Aeroscope reps have met with several council members, including Alderwoman Dr. Estella Shabazz, who represents the district the fairgrounds are in.

"I do believe when something is in an actual proposal or written state, that it's going to be something that's going to be good for the district, for city council, and just for everybody," said Dr. Shabazz.

"This proposal, if it does go through, it is a win, win, win all the way around," Bowen said.

The Aeroscope team anticipates a speedy start if approved, with the renovations of existing buildings, construction of new ones and an upgraded fence for security taking about three months.

Bowen says the benefit he's most excited about is potential job creation and apprenticeships. He adds before anything gets moving, Aeroscope will continue talking with city leaders and the community to get feedback.

"We absolutely plan to go and meet with the community associations, speak with the community leaders, answer all of their questions, listen to their feedback. Take everything into consideration so they know this is something that benefits everyone," said Bowen.

That community outreach is essential for many WTOC spoke to Wednesday night living around the former fairground site.

The attorney representing the production company says one T.V.  series and two films have already committed to using Aeroscope Studios should the proposal be accepted by the city.

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