Bayonne, New Jersey may soon have a slice of Los Angeles-style movie glamour.
A film and television studio planned for the southwest tip of Bayonne is envisioned to include 19 different buildings on a lot reminiscent of the golden age of Hollywood.
Renderings show sound stages, buildings to house equipment, an office and a post-production building, many of which appear to be designed in an art deco style. In an ambitious effort to replicate the West Coast’s cinema scenery, the main roadway through the site is even lined by palm trees.
The project, dubbed 1888 Studios, will go before the Bayonne Planning Board for site plan approval next Wednesday. The applicant’s attorney, Matthew Posada, declined to comment beyond saying, “We are going before the board on the 30th, and we are very much looking forward to presenting our proposed project.”
For years, the 74-acre lot that most recently contained a Texaco refinery has sat vacant. Its new use would house 25,450 employees and would reserve some of the property for public use.
Plans include a new public waterfront walkway winding around the film studio. A wall would separate the studio from the walkway, which would include seating, lighting and vegetation.
Inside the studio, a complex of buildings will support both film and television production. In addition to sound stages, there will be mill buildings for stage construction and storage, a lighting and grip building, a utility yard and a utility plant, according to a memo project manager Craig Hermann provided the city.
An office building would sit at the bottom of the property at the end of a central road, and next to it would be a cylindrical post-production building.
There will be both surface and sub-surface parking comprising 2,127 spaces.
“Soil is currently being imported into the site to raise the site above the flood hazard elevation,” Hermann wrote in the project narrative.
Buzz about the project began in September 2020 when the city amended the site’s redevelopment plan to permit a film studio to be built there. At the time, Chevron, which acquired Texaco in 2001, was finalizing the $33 million land sale.
Entertainment production is hot now after slowing earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, and with new streaming services continuing to emerge, there is lots of space for content to land, said Alvin Lieberman, executive director of the entertainment, media and technology program at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
“There are more platforms than ever, and a proliferation of platforms, what do you need?: a proliferation of content,” Lieberman said.
Revenue from filmmaking in New Jersey exceeded $500 million last year for the first time. The state recently increased tax credits for digital media projects from a $10 million to $30 million limit.
New film studios have also sprouted up in Kearny and Jersey City. A studio on Caven Point Avenue that opened in August was at the time the largest in the state. Bayonne’s studio would dwarf that 5.6-acre project.
The type of projects Bayonne’s prospective studio could attract depend on financing, what mediums the developers plan to cater to and whether they have already begun laying out deals, said Lieberman, who is also a marketing professor.
Smaller studios in the region tend to host independent productions and benefit from the talent coming out of northeastern film schools, Lieberman said.
“The real question is, what’s their aspiration?” the professor said.