Miami Entertainment Complex Rife With Doubts of Financial Feasibilty
On March 5, the Miami film community rejoiced at the announcement that the Miami Community Redevelopment Agency, headed by chairman Marc Sarnoff, is set to invest $11.5 million of taxpayer money to transform the downtown school board skills center into the new 70,000-square-foot Miami Entertainment Complex (MEC). MEC, to be located at 50 NW 14th Street, is the city's latest attempt to bring major motion pictures to the Magic City, responding to filmmakers' supposed complaints that there isn't a proper sound stage in Miami.
Photo via Hollywood Reporter
It was announced in November that EUE/Screen Gems Studios would run the operations of the facility and had already signed a ten-year, $100,000-per-year lease, which also includes an 11 percent revenue share with the City of Miami, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
"[Miami] is lacking proper facilities for contemporary shows you see on television and in theaters," EUE/Screen Gems Studios COO Chris Cooney told Cultist in a phone interview.
"To do these big films, you need some big-span space," Cooney added. "[Filmmakers] need a lot of green screen space. You look at Gravity -- it's the perfect example. They were catapulting through space; you can't have 18-foot ceilings. That's the problem in South Florida."
EUE/Screen Gems Studios, which has ten sound stages in Wilmington and nine in Atlanta, will add an additional two to its roster with the MEC location.
Unfortunately, there are still many underlying issues with the property itself. Before it was purchased by the CRA for $3.1 million in 2010, the Miami film community raised some pressing questions that have yet to be answered.
In a White Paper report by Maria Chavez of the Florida Film Production Coalition from September 2010, which we obtained thanks to Al Crespo of the Crespogram Report, Chavez outlines reasons the site of the new MEC would be a poor selection for a sound stage:
- The ceiling height is 18 feet to ceiling. "[It] creates serious limitations. The ideal is 35 feet for multiuse purposes."
- Columns that are "20 feet width and length 40 feet apart" would need to be removed for larger productions.
- Sound issues due to "railroad tracks directly parallel to west side of the building, 395-project construction, road noise from street traffic and 395 Expressway."
- Major issues with parking.
Even worse is her recommendation of the entire space itself:
"If the City of Miami's vision is indeed to be a world-class film production hub, on the world stage as a destination for filmmakers, a key, integral requirement is to have solid infrastructure that offers a Sound Stage Complex that is state of the art. The Miami Skill Center does not have the key elements to be or compare to a quality sound stage facility in Miami."
"The industry doesn't need another substandard space to substitute for a real sound stage, which unfortunately is what the Skills Center would be, even with some retrofit."