This time, it’s the North Side who is the beneficiary as Fields studio is planned
With the Writer’s Strike is entering its fifth week and further labor unrest brewing in Hollywood, the uncertain times facing film and television production isn’t stopping planning for new studio facilities, which are needed to meet demand as the number of TV shows in the marketplace is not abating anytime soon. And Chicago figures into those plans.
On May 22, a new $250 million film studio project was announced – this time on the North Side, where the old Field warehouse space currently occupies. Christened The Fields Studios, the new facility will include nine sound stages -one of them is at 36,000 square feet – the largest in Illinois – and employ anywhere from six hundred to eight hundred people. The space is located at the northwest corner of Diversey and Pulaski in the Avondale neighborhood and is scheduled to open early in 2024. Fields will also have 350,000 square feet of creative and production offices, plus mill and support space.
“One of the things that we’re excited about with the film business is that this an industry that promotes equity and inclusion. There’s a lot of workforce training that goes into it,” Zain Koita told Block Club Chicago, who is founder and managing partner of New York City-based real estate firm Knickpoint Ventures, the owner of the complex. “While we hear the big names, 75 percent of the businesses involved in the film industry are smaller with 10 people or less. … There’s transportation, caterers, hair and makeup, props and costumes, dry cleaners, etc.”
The new studio space is shared with The Fields Lofts, a cluster of high-end apartment buildings as well as a bank and a grocery store. The former warehouse was used by the former Marshall Field’s department store, who was bought by Macy’s in 2005 after fifteen years of ownership by Dayton Hudson (now Target Corporation.) Macy’s closed the warehouse in 2006.
“This project is another key landmark in our growing film and TV scene, which reached record revenue numbers in 2022,” said Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, who signed a ten-year extension of the state’s film production tax credit. “We’re telling important stories… with union labor with an eye to ensuring historically disadvantaged Chicagoans are given an opportunity to get their start in the industry through workforce development programs designed to increase diversity.”
Fields is the latest studio space planned in Chicago. Earlier this year, official groundbreaking took place in the South Side’s South Shore community for the future home of Regal Mile Studios, who will have several soundstages in an area bounded by South Chicago, Harper, Stony Island, and 77th. Both join Cinespace Studios on the West Side, where several TV shows are filmed, including Dick Wolf’s Chicago shows and former home to Empire and NBC Tower, where local television stations WMAQ, WSNS, and Cumulus’ radio stations are located.
The new Fields studio is expected to generate about 12,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in economic activity for Chicago, according to Variety.