The much-anticipated Raleigh Michigan Studios will break ground today, paving the way for a 200,000 square-foot sound stage building and a possible 3,000 new jobs in Metro Detroit.
The Los Angeles-based Raleigh Studios is building its new Michigan branch at the site of the old General Motors Centerpoint business campus in Pontiac.
The making of Raleigh Studios Michigan has been underway since early 2009, and since then has faced raising $60-80 million in financing, getting approved by the city and Oakland County and other obstacles.
A. Alfred Taubman, the Pontiac-born father of American shopping malls is heading up the project, along with John Rakolta and Linden Nelson, chairman and CEO of Michigan Motion Picture Studios.
Nelson was on air with WJR's Warren Pierce before the ground-breaking ceremony and talked about how important this project is to Taubman on a personal level.
"When Alfred originally walked through the site, he said ... where are all the cars, where are all the people? And what's happening with their families? And he had tears coming out of his eyes as to what had happened in southeast Michigan."
96 movies or TV productions have been filmed now in the state of Michigan so far, and the Michigan Film Office believes the new sound stages will draw even more television production.
The studio is also going to double as a teaching venue, training people in film industry trades.
"We're going to be a teaching studio with 5 to 7 colleges and universities having classrooms on our second floor," Nelson said. "So you're able to learn your trade, get trained in the business and go right down and work on a set or a movie, in an accounting office, production office, in animation or in editing."
Nelson said they hope to have the grand opening at the end of this year and have the first production on stages in February or March 2011.