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Major Film, TV Studio Announced for Doraville's GM Site

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Developers lifted the veil today on a planned fusion of film and TV studios, offices, retail, restaurants and more at the former General Motors Doraville Assembly Plant, touting the massive project as unprecedented in Georgia. The first phase of a new production complex called "Third Rail Studios" — a nod to the rail lines that served the shuttered GM Plant — is expected to open as early as the fourth quarter of this year, marking the first studios of this magnitude inside the Perimeter, officials said. Adaptive-reuse fans will be pleased to know this initial phase involves the conversion of an existing 130,000-square-foot factory building into sound stages, administrative offices, vendor spaces and mill shops to support production. The plant's defunct rail lines will be preserved and integrated within the landscape, a la New York City's Highline, officials said in a press release. "This will be unlike anything we've seen in Georgia," said Capstone South Properties president Michael Hahn, who's partnering with Integral Group on the studio portion. At full build-out, the media complex will consist of 270,000 square feet, the largest production facilities north of Atlanta. But for this long-vacant factory site, it's only the beginning of a much grander rebirth. The studios will anchor what's being called the "Yards District" portion of the site, which officials are billing as "a one-of-a-kind destination for dining, entertainment, parks, art, retail, makers, and other businesses." The location will allow for rapid-transit connectivity, with the Doraville MARTA Station across the street and the Chamblee Station down the block.

Design duties for Third Rail Studios appear to be in good hands: Janson Tsai, a division of award-winning architectural firm Perkins Eastman. Their previous work includes the design of Kaufman/Astoria Film Studios and Steiner Film Studios in New York, as well as projects with Imagine Films, CBS Television, NBC Universal, ESPN, Disney, and Sony.

In the grand scheme of things, Integral expects to build more than 10 million square feet of mixed-use product at the Doraville site (roughly equivalent to five Ponce City Markets). As of today, they're officially christening the whole shebang: "Assembly, Doraville, USA."

The "Assembly" name, officials said, acknowledges "the site's history as an automobile manufacturing plant, as well as it's future as a place of community and common purpose." It also reflects "the potential of this important project to knit together this part of the region as an economic node," developers said.

Development and film-industry leaders were quick to applaud the 2005 Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act for putting the studio project in gear. Lee Thomas, Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment division, said more large-scale soundstages are critical to the success of Y'allywood.

"Now that Georgia's economy is strong, many of our 'go to' warehouse properties have been sold or are being occupied by long-term tenants," said Thomas, in the press release. "Georgia's film industry is at an all-time high, so we are thrilled at The Integral Group's plans for Third Rail Studios."