Miami Ocean Studios is in negotiations to lease 160 acres of land between the Palmetto Expressway and Florida's Turnpike. The company expects to begin construction next year on a "Hollywood-class" studio. The land being negotiated falls just north of Opa-locka Executive Airport near the Dade-Broward county line and is currently known as the Country Club of Miami.
The area purposed in the deal is home to three charities. The current contract would require Ocean Studios to provide space for the groups -- Arc of South Florida, His House, and Center for Family and Child Enrichment -- either on the property or somewhere nearby that's deemed suitable.
Once Miami Ocean Studios signs the lease, construction would begin on improvements that would cost an estimated $30 million. Widening roads, installing better sewers, and tightening infrastructure in the area are reportedly at the top of the list. It's estimated that the massive project would be completed two years from groundbreaking.
The city would then reimburse developers around $10 million once the work is done, provided that the project moves forward. The reimbursement would come from a grant approved in December by Miami-Dade commissioners and funded by additional property taxes.
The proposed project is being presented as a one-of-a-kind studio location, meant to compete with large, international studios. Some of the things Rodolfo Paiz, a principal partner of Miami Ocean Studios, said the studio plans to have:
- Sound stages, some up to 24,000 square feet, with ceiling heights of 33 to 45 feet to accommodate lighting and electrical needs.
- Reinforced structure that would allow the studio to withstand category 5 hurricane force winds.
- A canal that would stretch 100 feet wide and 3,000 feet long
- Water tanks, one 300 by 200 square feet, and one that is 30 feet deep
- A hotel that would be run by a concessionaire
The water tanks might seem a little ridiculous, but Paiz said the advantage of having an indoor water facility in which to film offers filmmakers necessary alternatives.
"One of the things Miami has going for it is water, but it can be inconvenient and unsafe to shoot in open water, so we've designed these tanks," Paiz said. "This is a complete package; it will have few competitors worldwide."
Paiz sees the project as a huge boost for the local economy. He estimates the project will bring 3,100 new construction jobs and approximately 2,700 well-paid positions for film crews and others who would work for the complex.
Not everyone believes a massive indoor studio is a great idea, however. Last year, Oren Cohen, vice president of Mana Wynwood, the local production space for the quickly canceled Charlie's Angels reboot and Iron Man 3, spoke with New Times about the Miami Community Redevelopment Agency's plans to invest $11.5 million of taxpayer dollars to transform a school board building into the 70,000-square-foot Miami Entertainment Complex (MEC). He spoke then how a state-of-the-art indoor studio is not exactly why a film producer might choose Miami to make his next film:
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"What we were getting from the major studios is that the majority of the work that comes into Miami is about getting outside locations. Some large productions may build inside sets, especially on rainy days, which is what we learned in the experience with Iron Man 3 and Charlie's Angels. When they come to Miami, they may need a staging place, but they come here more for the geography."
It remains to be seen if this project can jump the many hurdles that stand in the way of its completion, but it seems as if the group is excited to be moving forward with the project.