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UNLV unveils timeline for big studio project in southwest valley

Updated April 30, 2024 - 5:19 pm

In another push to lure more movie and television production away from California, construction on UNLV’s large studio project in southwest Las Vegas could begin as early as 2027, the university announced Tuesday.

The UNLV Research Foundation said the groundbreaking for the 34-acre Nevada Studios Campus at the Harry Reid Research and Technology Park could happen in 2027, but that is subject to the state’s film tax credit program being expanded in the next legislative session.

The Nevada Film Studio Infrastructure Act is set to be sponsored by Sen. Roberta Lange, D-Las Vegas, in the 2025 legislative session. It could create up to $95 million in annual film tax credits.

“I am eager to partner with UNLV, Birtcher Development and the MBS Group to gain legislative support in furthering economic diversification and workforce development goals in Southern Nevada, through film and television industry growth,” Lange said in a statement.

UNLV said MBS Group would operate the studio project. The company services more than 500 sound stages in North America and Europe and supports more than 900 productions a year, according to MBS Group’s website.

The development of the studio project will be overseen by Birtcher Development and Gardner Nevada Tech Park Studios, an affiliate of the Gardner Company, the developer of the 122-acre Harry Reid Tech Park.

Bringing more television and movie production to the Las Vegas Valley is seen by many as another way to diversify the region’s economy and add tens of thousands of jobs. Big players such as Sony Entertainment and Howard Hughes Holdings, the master developer of Summerlin, have signed on to movie star Mark Wahlberg’s vision of Hollywood 2.0 as well and are also planning a major movie studio in the west Las Vegas Valley.

Kim Spurgeon, the director of the Nevada Film Office, previously told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the valley has to have more studio space to lure big productions and their workforce.

Proposal for Nevada Studios Campus

The Nevada Studios Campus will be over 800,000 square feet and cost about $800 million to develop, according to estimates from April 2023.

The main 50,000-square-foot facility, dubbed the Nevada Media Lab building, will include space for vocational training, internships and workforce development opportunities for K - 12 schools and other higher education institutions, according to UNLV.

Lange said her legislation will include a provision where a certain percentage of revenue generated from film and TV productions in the state will go towards funding Nevada Media Lab’s workforce training and development programs.

“It’ll be enough to keep it running and training people,” she said in an interview with the Review-Journal.

MBS Group’s role

MBS Group said UNLV’s studio will be “similar in scale” to other flagship studio properties it manages in Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver and London

Discussions between UNLV and MBS Group have been going on for about a year, Jason Hariton, the chief studio and real estate officer for MBS Group, said.

He said the partnership made sense because of Las Vegas’ location and current workforce.

“As the entertainment capital of the world, with highly skilled technicians, Las Vegas is a natural choice to create a new film and television production hub to service the demands of a growing global content industry,” Hariton said in an emailed statement. “Nevada offers great proximity to Los Angeles, while also serving as an international destination for talent, and has a diverse range of film-able locations throughout the state.”

UNLV didn’t say how quickly the project could be constructed but Lange said her bill would require the studio to be completed within five years in order to be eligible for tax credits.

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on X.

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