New England Studios will break ground on Tuesday on a film and television studio at Devens, a former military base in Central Massachusetts managed by the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency.
The project has the potential to bring between 800 and 1,000 jobs to the region, according to a press release sent out by MassDevelopment last year when the $104 million project was proposed. The studio will be built in three phases during 10 years, according to the release, and will be located on a site along Jackson Road.
“I think it’s fantastic for the area,” said Ayer’s Board of Selectmen chairman, James Fay. “Eight hundred jobs is always good for this region. I think it’s something that’s going to be here to stay.”
The project is envisioned as a one-stop film-making enterprise that will bring Hollywood to Massachusetts.
The groundbreaking, announced by MassDevelopment last week, comes nearly a year after the agency’s board of directors authorized its staff to enter into an agreement for the sale of land in Devens to MJM Development LLC of Andover.
A MassDevelopment spokeswoman declined to comment Sunday night on whether the sale had been completed or what the price was.
The project is expected to total about 600,000 square feet of buildings, with the first phase bringing four 18,000-square-foot Hollywood-style sound stages, according to MassDevelopment.
The announcement comes as MassDevelopment tries to put behind it two major recent setbacks: the failure of a proposal to convert the historic Vicksburg Square barracks into housing and the implosion of the once-promising Evergreen Solar. Its now-empty plant was recently auctioned off.
The event Tuesday will be held at Rogers Field in Devens, with representatives from MJM Development, New England Studios, and MassDevelopment.
“This project responds to the demand for Massachusetts-based production facilities following the introduction of the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit,” MassDevelopment said last week in a media advisory.
Fay said he is optimistic that the jobs the project creates will be sustainable and high-paying.
“I don’t know that the entertainment industry is in trouble anywhere,” he said.
The MassDevelopment Board of Directors also authorized a tax increment financing agreement that will reduce the studio company’s local property tax on the improvements that it makes, according to the press release last year.