We are just so excited about New England Studios breaking ground right next door to us on Devens! It’s thrilling just to imagine the prospects of this wonderful new opportunity for our area. With the recent new groundbreaking of the studio and the start of construction, everyone in the area is just brimming with excitement and eagerness to see this project take shape.
Jason Kauppi, a member of the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce, recently commented in the Lowell Sun about the groundbreaking ceremonies:
I have no problem with The Sun asking why only one state legislator attended the groundbreaking of a movie and TV studio at Devens (“Studio ceremony was no blockbuster,” June 30). However, in the effort to be witty, the headline leaves the wrong impression of the event.
This was among the best groundbreakings I’ve ever attended. As a Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce board member, public-relations consultant, former gubernatorial spokesman and one-time Sun reporter, I’ve been to my share. This event was standingroom only, drawing a much larger crowd than an earlier groundbreaking at a regional 9-1-1 dispatch center, also attended by only one state legislator. The building of New England Studios is a project worth celebrating because it represents significant private investment in Devens.
The studio will get a modest property tax break if it meets job-creation targets, unlike the now-defunct Evergreen Solar plant that cost taxpayers millions. This fact alone made the studio groundbreaking a blockbuster event.
DEVENS — The unlikely story of an old military base’s transition to a hub of Hollywood-style productions took a leap forward Tuesday, with Massachusetts officials breaking ground on a $30 million soundstage complex in Devens.
The new studios, which will include four 18,000-square-foot soundstages, are expected to be open for business in a year.
Chris Byers, director of operations for New England Studios at Devens LLC, said the top-of-the-line facility, coupled with the state’s film tax credit, will lure television and film productions, as well as hundreds of jobs, to Massachusetts.
“I don’t think anybody will believe how successful this thing is going to be,” Byers said. “I think it will surprise a lot of people.”
The series of events that led Byers to open Massachusetts’ first major sound stages could have been cooked up in Tinseltown. And it started in Lowell.
Byers, 48, grew up in the Mill City, the son of Frank Byers, who co-owned Caddell & Byers Insurance Co., of Lowell.
After starring as a hockey player at Cushing Academy, a prep school in Ashburnham, Byers moved to Europe where he briefly played hockey professionally. Byers’ hockey career also took him to Illinois, Indiana and New York, where he played for several minor-league teams.
DEVENS — It’s official.
The New England Studios at Devens, a $106 million Hollywood-style movie studio project, will break ground next week.
MassDevelopment announced Thursday that it will celebrate the commencement of the project with the studio developers at noon Tuesday on Rogers Field in Devens. The groundbreaking at the project site off Jackson Road will also happen Tuesday.
Details of the land deal between The New England Studios and MassDevelopment, the state’s quasi-public economic agency, remain unclear, however, as both parties declined to comment. MassDevelopment, which is tasked with redeveloping the 4,400-acre former Army fort, owns the bulk of the land in Devens, including the studio site.
The New England Studios at Devens and MassDevelopment reached a land purchase-and-sale agreement for the project last summer, but the transaction had not occurred as of June 11. MassDevelopment announced last August $5 million in tax-increment financing for the project, which will cut taxes for the studio complex over 20 years.
Asked Thursday if The New England Studios at Devens has acquired the construction site from MassDevelopment, and if it has, how much the land was sold for, a MassDevelopment spokeswoman said the agency could not comment until next week.
Chris Byers, a movie producer from Lowell who founded The New England Studios at Devens, is expected to attend the ceremony along with MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones.