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Gov. Murphy, Netflix execs announce plan to build production facility at former fort

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Gov. Phil Murphy and Netflix executives have announced that the entertainment company will develop an East Coast production facility on the former Fort Monmouth campus in Eatontown and Oceanport.

The project is expected to transform a property that has been largely vacant for more than a decade into a facility that is estimated to create more than 1,500 permanent production jobs and more than 3,500 construction-related jobs in New Jersey, according to a Dec. 21 press release.

According to the announcement, Netflix plans to commit $848 million in capital investments to develop the 292-acre parcel, which is adjacent to Route 35, into 12 soundstages totaling nearly 500,000 square feet of new development. The remainder of the property is slated for redevelopment with supporting film uses and several community amenities.

“This transformative investment will serve as a cornerstone in our efforts to create a thriving industry from whole cloth,” Murphy was quoted as saying in the press release. “As a result of nearly a billion dollars in film production spending, New Jersey will further solidify its status as an emerging national leader in the television and film industries.

“Additionally, Netflix’s substantial direct investment will stimulate job creation and spark an entirely new ecosystem of housing, hotels and ancillary businesses and services, bringing with it countless additional jobs and boosting the regional economy,” Murphy said.

“We are thrilled to continue and expand our significant investment in New Jersey and North America. We believe a Netflix studio can boost the local and state economy with thousands of new jobs and billions in economic output, while sparking a vibrant production ecosystem in New Jersey,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer.

“We look forward to working with Gov. Murphy, his administration and local leaders to finalize this deal in the months ahead. We thank the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) board and their staff for selecting Netflix as the winning bid and for supporting our mission to create a state-of-the-art production facility at Fort  Monmouth,” Sarandos said.

According to the press release, Netflix’s plan for a sustainable, integrated film studio campus will be completed in two phases over several years.

The first phase of the project will include the construction of 12 soundstages that will range in size from 15,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet each with a minimum total buildout of 180,000 square feet and a maximum buildout of 480,000 square feet.

Additional and ancillary improvements may include office space, production services buildings, mill space and studio backlots, among other uses customary to the film industry, with the potential for consumer-facing components, such as retail and consumer experiences, according to the press release.

The announcement followed the authorization by the FMERA board of a Purchase and Sale and Redevelopment Agreement with Netflix for the property. Board members approved the decision at the authority’s Dec. 21 board meeting.

Netflix was one of four applicants that submitted proposals in response to a Request for Offers to Purchase (RFOTP) issued by FMERA on March 8, with a deadline of June 6. Netflix received the top evaluation score. The deal now enters a due diligence period and local approvals process before being finalized, according to the press release.

Netflix will pay $55 million for the parcel, including a utility contribution of $5 million and the FMERA office relocation fee of $3 million, per the terms of the RFOTP.

“Our team is incredibly passionate about Fort Monmouth’s revitalization and is committed to surpassing the fort’s prior role as a major economic driver in the region,” FMERA Executive Director Kara Kopach said.

“A project of this scale has the potential not only to create thousands of jobs, but will also result in significant investment on the fort, and spur local development in support of the project. The magnitude of Netflix’s investment is an absolute windfall for our stakeholders and the state. We are eager to see this project come to fruition,” Kopach said.

The parcel that will be developed by Netflix contains former residential, administrative, and research and development buildings, warehouses, workshops and additional general purpose facilities in Eatontown and Oceanport, within the Main Post section of Fort Monmouth.

“The closing of Fort Monmouth was a devastating economic blow to our region, one from which we continue to strive to overcome,” said state Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth). “The Netflix plan to develop a production facility on the fort’s campus in Monmouth County, creating both permanent production jobs as well as construction jobs, will be a welcome boon to our economy.

“I want to commend the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and FMERA for their tireless work in promoting the economic potential of the region and for bringing back the commercial vibrancy of the Fort Monmouth area. This Netflix redevelopment will certainly play a starring role in that continuing revitalization,” Gopal said.

“New Jersey was the birthplace of the modern film industry, so we are glad Netflix is helping to bring it back to its roots with this major investment in people and production facilities here in Monmouth County,” said state Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth).

“This is truly exciting since the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth to ensure it fulfills its massive potential has been a goal of so many of us for so long.

“I want to thank everyone who was part of this collaborative, bipartisan effort, including the Governor, the Fort Monmouth Economic Redevelopment Authority, Tim Sullivan and the NJEDA staff, the Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners, and the Oceanport and Eatontown local elected officials. Job well done,” O’Scanlon said.

Monmouth County Commissioner Director Thomas A. Arnone said, “My fellow commissioners and I are honored to have been in long-time discussions with Netflix, along with Monmouth County Administrator Teri O’Connor, and we thank them for acknowledging the county’s role as a partner in this tremendous undertaking.

“The county looks forward to continuing to work with Netflix and FMERA to bring this project to fruition and we stand ready to support them with all of our resources. This project is vital for the future of Monmouth County as it will bring thousands of jobs to our surrounding municipalities,” Arnone said.

Eatontown Mayor Anthony Talerico Jr. said, “Eatontown is excited to participate in what is most likely the largest and most complex redevelopment project in the state. While nothing can fill the emotional void left by the closing of Fort Monmouth, this project will provide a strong economic boost to the region and attract an exciting and vibrant industry to the area.”

“New Jersey continues to illustrate it is the ideal location for corporations seeking to grow their business. This is a win-win because it grows the local economy and creates quality union jobs in the construction sector and the film and entertainment industries,” said Charlie Wowkanech, president, New Jersey State AFL-CIO.

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