This January, the office submitted a proposal to the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) requesting $5 million to begin construction on a new film production park on the vacant brownfield beside the abandoned Carrie Furnaces mill in the borough of Rankin.
According to the proposal posted this week, the 20.16-acre development would include six sound stages, three production support buildings, a mill building restored for set construction and two commissary buildings.
Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh, Pittsburgh Film Office Director Dawn Keezer said the project is a key step in growing the region’s burgeoning industry.
In terms of filmmaking, “Southwestern Pennsylvania has been on a roll. We’ve been bringing in over $100,000,000 a year into this region’s economy every year for the past five years in a row,” says Keezer. “We’ve quadrupled the number of people working in this industry locally, and we could see a lot more of that.”
The city already has several warehouses that have been successfully converted into production studios, including 31st Street Studios in the Strip District, the Westinghouse office park in Churchill and the former American Eagle distribution center in Warrendale.
Currently, though, these facilities are unable to support much of the state-of-the-art lighting and camera equipment that has become the industry standard in the era of 4K televisions.
“We’ve been able to make due over the years,” says Keezer. “But what we keep hearing is the need for purpose-built space. It needs to happen in Southwestern Pennsylvania.”
Though she declined to name specific projects, Keezer says that in January, “we lost three shows to Canada in one week.”
This list of RACP award winners will be announced this fall, and Keezer hopes this project will be among them.