Chicago studio construction underway

Cinespace could be (partially) opened as soon as January

TORONTO — Construction began earlier this week to convert the historic Ryerson steel property on Chicago’s Near Southwest side into one of the largest state-of-the-art film and TV production studios outside of Hollywood.

A recently approved $5 million state grant sealed the reported $18 million purchase of the 48.5 acre property by Cinespace founder Nick Mirkopoulos, whose 20-year-old family-owned business operates three successful studio facilities in the Toronto area.

Cinespace Chicago could see action soon, with one 330,000-square-foot stage ready in January and an estimated six stages and eight production offices ready to go in the near future. Discussions are under way with major studios to try to lure feature and TV projects.

Chicago’s production biz has long hoped for a one-stop facility. Stages are located five miles from the Loop’s State and Madison Streets.

Mirkopoulos, who has been courted by many European and U.S. cities over the years to build studios, put Cinespace’s proposal to key city and industry players six months ago but has been in talks for almost a year.

The Ryerson campus, as it’s commonly referred to, includes roads with two major intersections Mirkopoulos said can be built up for street scenes. Completion of Cinespace Chicago is expected within a year to 15 months, and the complex is projected to create close to 6,000 jobs.

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