EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - A WTOC update to a story we’ve been following for close to five years.
You may remember a production company called Moon River Studios backed out of a multi-million-dollar movie studio in Effingham County.
The company and its top officials were accused of securities fraud after they bailed out of a project to build the nation’s largest movie studio in Effingham County, allegedly taking millions from investors, employees, and county tax dollars.
In 2018, a federal judge ordered Medient to pay out $1.8 million for profits they acquired through securities fraud.
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Now that the dust has finally settled, the Industrial Development Authority has some good news to share about the once abandoned property.
“This property is called the Savannah Portside International Park, and it was originally going to be a movie studio.”
But as we know, those plans fell through.
Although, as it turns out that wasn’t all bad news according to the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority CEO Brandt Herndon.
“A lot of work was done to bring it up to par to be a movie studio.”
In other words, the infrastructure was already there, actually making it easier to shift into a new direction.
“We repositioned the park into it’s original purpose which was an industrial park,” said Herndon.
Not as flashy as a movie studio but it certainly still got plenty of attention from the right places.
“There’s so much demand here in the market. There’s so little square footage available that typically these developers are very successful in landing tenants,” Herndon says.
Which is exactly what the properties new developer, Panattoni Development, is banking on.
“What they’ve decided to do is take half the property, which is 67 acres. They’re going to build a 518,000 square foot building that will be expandable to 1.2 million square-feet,” said Herndon.
A big building which Herndon says means big money for the county.
A million square-foot building can be anywhere from $50-$60 million to build. Therefore the taxes that will paid on these buildings are significant here in the county.
And of course, plenty of jobs.
“There could be anywhere from 200 to 300 hundred employees out here on this site and these are good paying jobs,” said Herndon.
Giving Herndon confidence that this is the best path forward.
“Not to say it wouldn’t have been great to have a movie studio but I think the highest and best use for this property is warehouse distribution.”
Right now they expect the first building on the property to be completed by early July of 2021.
Although they don’t have a tenant yet they are confident due to it’s close proximity to the ports it won’t take long to fill it.