Hackman Capital Partners (HCP) and its affiliate the MBS Group have won the request to build a major new $250 million studio complex in Toronto, a project that marks the most significant investment in the production industry in more than two decades, the city said Wednesday.
The Basin Media Hub, named for its Basin Street location, will sit on 8.9 acres in the provincial capital’s waterfront Port Lands. It will provide up to 500,000 square feet of film, TV and digital media studio space and production offices, including eight purpose-built sound stages as well as workshop and production support spaces. HCP-MBS will also work with the city to create a public promenade along the waterfront to further reinvigorate the environs.
“With production value [in Toronto] on track to hit a record high in 2022, surpassing [the 2019 record high of] $2.2 billion, the industry needs this future state-of-the-art media hub to meet the growing demand for space and Toronto talent,” said city councillor Paula Fletcher, chair of the Film, Television and Digital Media Advisory Board.
She emphasized that the new hub is not merely an addition of new buildings, but will come with work experience and training opportunities “for a diverse range of careers in the media production industry, with a particular focus on people in equity deserving groups.”
HCP-MBS have also committed an initial $1 million investment to establish a Basin Media Hub endowment for a local training program, as well as funds for a program coordinator. Its MBS University division, which has experience creating customized programs for hands-on practical crew training, will also provide onsite training space and work experience opportunities for students in local schools.
The HCP-MBS proposal was approved by CreateTO, Toronto’s real estate agency, last month and city council last week, before city mayor John Tory announced the finalization of the partnership on Tuesday.
Tory noted that the hub will help Toronto increase production capacity, create new jobs and employment training opportunities, and attract and retain production investment from around the world.
“This is a major investment in the future of Toronto’s screen industry and I look forward to seeing this $250 million project get underway — it will help ensure that our city comes back stronger than ever,” he said.
Steven Trumper, CEO of CreateTo, explained that they had gone through a multi-stage offering process to select the HCP-MBS proposal, which he called a “tremendous opportunity for the city” and “an exciting addition to Toronto’s east end.”
A Time of Rapid Growth
Home to more than 2.9 million people, Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America. The metropolis has long been an established destination for film production, with celebrated series such as “Star Trek Discovery,” “See,” “Locke & Key,” “Schitt’s Creek,” “What We Do in the Shadows,” “The Queen’s Gambit,” “Jack Reacher” and the upcoming feature films “Nightmare Alley” and “Women Talking” all made in the city.
Netflix announced this year that they will be opening a Canadian headquarters in the city and hope to tap further into Canadian content and creators.
The kick-off of the Basin Media Hub comes at a time when the screen industry in Toronto is experiencing a record expansion, the city said. Studio space in the Toronto region is currently expected to increase by 63% to a projected 5.3 million square feet by 2025 due to expansions and new builds.
To support that growth, the city’s film office will be hiring additional film permit coordinators and sector development staff to expand services as production volumes grow. New film permitting fees will also be introduced next year to help pay for those roles and other initiatives.
Deputy mayor Michael Thompson, chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee, explained that the film industry plays a vital role in the strength and diversity of Toronto’s economy.
“The international demand for our studio space and talent continues to grow, and yesterday’s announcement advances our plans to augment the city’s studio capacity, develop our workforce and further green the industry,” Thompson said.
HCP CEO Michael Hackman called it a “privilege” to have been selected as the hub’s developer and operator.
“We’re very much looking forward to getting this project under way, helping the city expand its studio footprint, and supporting all who are interested in working in the screen industry,” he said.