United Studios of America set for East Coast

A group of real estate developers, financiers and venture capitalists are looking to build a large film and TV studio facility, to be called the United Studios of America, on the East Coast.

The move is backed by billionaire developer Arthur G. Cohen, GC Corp. venture capitalists Adi Cohen and Joseph Grinkorn, plus Baldwin Entertainment toppers Howard Baldwin and Karen Baldwin. A. Searle Field has been tapped as the studio’s chief exec.

While the partners are tight-lipped about the location, Connecticut is considered a front-runner. Other states include Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York.

“Some states have had success with tax credits, and it’s exposed them to the fact that you really can do films there,” Field said. “And with the decline in manufacturing, they now see film as a real driver in terms of jobs. We see it generating 500 to 2,000 jobs.”

Field, who previously served as president of the Connecticut Development Authority and as a chief of staff to Connecticut Gov. Lowell Weicker, said they’re looking to spend $20 million-$100 million, depending on the site.

“Right now, with these partners, we have the money to do this,” he said. “We don’t need additional financing. We’re also looking at sites that have existing studios where we could add on.”

The group intends the facility to be environmentally friendly and draw upscale hotels, resorts and entertainment into the larger plan.

Efforts to build a large East Coast studio have had mixed success. In 2002, another group sought to inject $375 million into a 700,000-square-foot facility in Manhattan. Real estate issues sank that effort, though one of principals, Pacifica Ventures, is close to breaking ground on a Pennsylvania-based facility.

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