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Old Posted Dec 2, 2020, 3:58 PM
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Hollywood in Hamilton: Massive movie studio planned for West Harbour will open first building in February

By Matthew Van Dongen
The Hamilton Spectator
Wed., Dec. 2, 2020

Hamilton’s long-promised west harbour film studio will begin making movie magic in February — to start, inside one of the city’s oldest manufacturing sites.

AEON Studio Group trumpeted plans back in June 2019 to build a 14-acre film and TV production hub paired with a “live-work” development atop city-owned lands that were controversially bulldozed for a failed stadium plan a decade ago.

The COVID pandemic slowed environmental studies on the properties bounded by Queen, Tiffany and Barton streets and the land remains in taxpayer hands. In fact, the city even bought another area parcel for $3.5 million at the height of the first pandemic lockdown in April.

But the film consortium announced Wednesday that the “first decisive step” toward the Hollywood North dream — now called AEON Bayfront Studios — will open for business Feb. 1 across the street from its planned mixed-use development, in the current home of AVL Manufacturing at 243 Queen St. N.

That 80,000-square-foot facility most recently churned out modified shipping containers for use as mobile COVID medical triage units. AVL head Vince DiCristofaro told The Spectator he is relocating his Queen Street operations and 100 workers to another factory on Sherman Avenue.

“We’re staying in Hamilton and more employment is moving in here, so it’s a real win-win for the city,” said DiCristofaro, who plans to sell the property to AEON and its local real estate partner, Forge and Foster.

The 7.5-acre property has had a factory on it since Great Western Railway rerolled worn out rails there in 1861. Now, it will be making movies.

The size of both the building and property will immediately rank it “among the best studios” in the region, said AEON partner Mike Bruce in a statement Wednesday. It has 50-foot-tall ceilings, room for a 27,000-square-foot main stage, 40,000 square feet of additional production space and a paint shop.

At full build-out, the film hub is supposed to add 1,000-plus new jobs, but it was not immediately clear Wednesday how many people will be employed to start at 243 Queen St. N.

Full story here
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