Delayed 3-D film studio shoots for 2011 in Railyard
Julie Ann Grimm | The New Mexican
Posted: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - 12/28/10
Development of a film-production studio at the Santa Fe Railyard will take longer than anticipated, but it is still in the pipeline, organizers said this week.
Masque Entertainment announced this summer that it plans to lease part of the city-owned site to erect offices and a 17,000-square-foot building for technical production of sound, special effects and other digital mixing.
The deal came as city property managers discovered that Artyard, a development partnership that originally leased the site, was in financial trouble.
Although city officials approved a change in subleases to allow Masque to use the parcel instead, and various committees signed off on designs and zoning for the project, the California production company still lacks a formal lease on the site.
Richard Czoski, director of the Santa Fe Railyard Community Corp. — a nonprofit that acts as the city's land manager — said the project hit a snag because of liens filed by Artyard creditors.
Liens typically "cast a wide net" so that creditors can try to get a settlement, but since the Railyard Corporation didn't enter into a contract with the creditors and because of other factors, the land managers have filed a countersuit that they hope will clear the cloud on the leasehold.
"I believe we can resolve the lien issues and proceed with the Masque leases after the first of the year," Czoski said. "We are still very confident that Masque Entertainment Studios will be joining us as a tenant in the Railyard. ... We feel we can ameliorate the situation."
Masque owner Steve Perry said in June that he expected the studio building would be nearly complete this winter. He now says construction could start in late February.
"Our intention is that we want to be open this summer," he said. "We are just flying through on finishing construction drawings. Now we've got some big buildings to build."
Some delays occurred because of public hearings and other city approval processes, but the project is on track now, he said.
As construction begins, Perry said, the company will hire 80 employees and train them to work in a production division that converts standard 2-D movies into 3-D. By late summer, he said, 100 to 150 people should be working in the new facility.
According to records filed with the Santa Fe County Clerk's Office, Artyard and its principals, Don Wiviott and Mitch Davenport, are on the hook to Praxis Architects for about $811,000 in unpaid fees for design work on a building proposed for the property and two other tracts they had intended to develop.
Another lien, for about $40,000, was also filed against the project by an Arizona air-conditioning supplier but has since been released. Dahl, a plumbing supplier, filed a lien in October alleging it was owed $19,400 in unpaid supply bills. Also, a lien for about $2,300 was filed in 2008 by an equipment-rental firm. No records reflect release from those actions.
Artyard entered receivership last month while foreclosure proceedings from Century Bank commenced. A report from the court-appointed receiver filed in state District Court indicates that commercial and residential tenants in an existing building at the Railyard are still paying rent, although many received discounts this fall because of the unfinished nature of the project. Attorneys are set to take depositions in the case next month.
The city purchased the 50-acre Santa Fe Railyard in 1995, and then adopted a master plan for its redevelopment based on a public-private partnership model. Developers and tenants lease land, the revenues from which are intended to repay the debt incurred by the city for the Railyard purchase as well as maintain spaces considered as public assets.