Pacifica Ventures Awarded Lease Deal for Elstree Studios

http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/multi-platform/news/us-facilities-group-wins-elstree-lease/119362.article

US facilities group wins Elstree lease

15 February, 2007 | By Adrian Pennington

The fate of Elstree Film and TV Studios, home to Dancing on Ice and Big Brother, looks secure following the purchase of the site’s 125-year lease by California-based film and television facilities group Pacifica Ventures.

The fate of Elstree Film and TV Studios, home to Dancing on Ice and Big Brother, looks secure following the purchase of the site’s 125-year lease by California-based film and television facilities group Pacifica Ventures.

The sale will come as a relief to Elstree’s studio management after a protracted tender process which began in 2005. Last May the council announced that there had been no successful bids for the 125-year lease, sparking concern that the studios could be sold to a housing developer.

Following due diligence the deal is expected to be finalised by April.

One potential fly in the ointment is Pacifica’s concerns about removing a large pile of asbestos from the site, dumped there a decade ago after studio buildings were demolished. The contaminated land comprises a quarter of the site’s total space and is considered vital by Pacifica to increase the studio’s capacity.

The group wants owner Hertsmere Borough Council to carry the £6m cost of removing the hazardous substance.

Councillor Morris Bright said he has asked for government funding to remove the mound and denied the sale was conditional on its removal, as the lease for the asbestos land could be sold separately and at a later date. ‘Pacifica Ventures rightly says this is the council’s liability and we will take responsibility for it,’ said Bright.

The council acquired Elstree in 1996 from the Brent Walker Group and is keen to avoid a repetition of events which saw part of the site controversially sold off to a supermarket chain.

‘The bidder had to be someone with substantial money behind them to increase and improve the facilities,’ says studio director Neville Reid. ‘We’re delighted we can move forward with developing on a bigger site.’

Draft plans include the construction of two more sound stages, ancillary workshops, craft-related training facilities and a permanent streetscene.

The historic studios opened in 1927 and were home to the UK’s first talkie, TV series The Avengersand George Lucas’ Star Wars.

Pacifica Ventures owns Culver Studios in California where Citizen Kane was produced. It also owns a facility in New Mexico and Kiev Studio City in Ukraine.

Feb 15, 2007

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