BlueStar Studios could open first phase in late sum

Atlanta Business Chronicle – The first phase of a new Forest Park film studio could open in late summer.

BlueStar Studios is transforming 53 acres at Fort Gillem, a 1,500-acre former Army base that today serves as a logistics and distribution hub. BlueStar’s property includes six historic buildings that have been abandoned for more than a decade. 

The first phase, a roughly $40 million investment, will refurbish five of those buildings into mill, office and warehouse space. It will also build two, 20,000-square-foot sound stages and a 16,000-square-foot office building. BlueStar expects to receive a certificate of occupancy in August.

“We’re almost there,” said Mark Parkman, chief operating officer for BlueStar. The project, he said, “blends the history with the new and revitalizes a part of the Fort Gillem campus that we think makes for an excellent place for people to make TV and film.”

Parkman, who hailed from the International Olympic Committee, founded the company with Rich Goldberg, a former DirecTV executive and media consultant.

The team announced BlueStar last fall as an 18-stage, $180 million film campus. The expansion plans, though, are still being worked out.

A second phase could kick off early next year, Parkman said. That project would add another eight sound stages and renovate the historic headquarters building, which Goldberg previously said is “108,000 square feet of glorious 1940s military architecture.” The space will be used as offices for production companies.

BlueStar will bring new jobs to Forest Park, a city about 10 miles from Downtown Atlanta. As many as 1,000 people could be working onsite when the 10 sound stages are complete.

Parkman hopes it entices more investment. “I think it could spur more development south of I-20 toward Forest Park and into Clayton County as we continue to grow,” he said.

Fort Gillem had closed in 2011 as part of a Department of Defense program to shut down and realign inactive military bases. Three years later, around 1,200 acres of the property was repurposed as a logistics park. Grocery giant The Kroger Co., industrial distributor HD Supply and diesel engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. all have distribution hubs at Gillem Logistics Center.

BlueStar becomes the second metro Atlanta film studio to repurpose a former Army base. Tyler Perry Studios took over 300 acres at Fort McPherson, where there are now plans to add more sound stages and possibly an entertainment district.