Chicago Studio City adds state of-the-art stages in a major expansion

Phase one of a major expansion is near completion at Chicago Studio City, as three new state-of-the-art stages are being added to the campus. Phase two will include an additional 66,000 sq. ft. of new stage space next year.

When completed, the expansion will add a total of 185,000 sq. ft. of new production space to the campus.

The original production space has four stages. Stages 1, 2 & 3 are currently occupied by the new FX limited series, Justified City Primeval, and last summer, they were filled by the Apple TV+ series, The Shining Girls.

The new stages are in a building at the west end of the campus with a second floor walkthrough that connects it to the main building.

“All of the stages are state-of-the-art,” said owner, John Crededio, Jr. “They all have three phase electric boxes, heating and air conditioning, Insul-Quilt soundproofing, a new insulated roof, bathrooms, lunchrooms, and production offices with kitchenettes.”

He pointed to the space just beyond the rear of the 19,000 sq. ft., Stage 5, “This exterior wall is coming out and there will be a new entryway with a nice office area, a new passenger elevator and there’s lots more office space on the second floor.”

“Each stage is designed to keep the production offices nearby,” said John. “There are hallways that go around all the stages so you never have to worry about walking through a hot set.”

He explained his plan to give each production a sense of having a space to themselves without the need of a long walk from the stage to production offices that are often located in a space that is shared by others.

There are loading docks, and a new freight elevator that services all the stages. The top floor has high ceilings with skylights that can only be found in Chicago’s old manufacturing buildings, filling the room with natural light. “This area will be additional office space, prop storage and set deck storage,” said John.

Here are some early photos of the space under construction:

Once completed, the entire complex offers a production space that is well planned, by experienced filmmakers.

That’s really what makes Chicago Studio City unique. The vast experience, and pride of ownership of a family with over 50 years in the Chicago film industry — the Crededio Family spans four generations of Chicago filmmakers.

The studio is owned by John, Jr and his brother Joe Crededio. “Most of my family is involved in the film business,” said John. “Years ago, my grandfather (Daniel Crededio,) was a stage electrician, and among the first twenty members of Local 476. My dad (John Crededio, Sr.) started as a gaffer. My mom (Delores) was makeup and hair years ago. All three of my dad’s brothers also worked in the union Gino, Ronny and Danny, and his two sisters.”

The fact is, it would be hard to work on a Chicago set without bumping into a relative, Crededio, Dambra, Doherty, Fatigato and Volpe. They are all related.

John Crededio, Sr, who sadly passed away in 2018, got his start on a film set as a gaffer in the ’70s and bought his first commercial stage facility at Grand and Western in 1979. He then became a partner in the purchase of Fred A. Niles Studios in 1982, which later sold to the Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo group.

“We outgrew it pretty quickly and purchased the property at 5660 W. Taylor Street,” said John.

He was referring to their current location, the sprawling property that was the former Hotpoint Appliance facility, on the west side near Central & Roosevelt Rd. It had plenty of office space and several factory buildings with high ceilings, begging to be developed into sound stages. It was there, in 1986 that John, Sr. fulfilled his dream of owning a first class film studio.

In developing that facility, John Crededio, Sr. initiated a surge of film and TV production in Chicago that continued over the span of a dozen years, until everything came to an abrupt halt on 9/11/01.

The studio that has been home to more than 5,000 productions over the last 36 years has had its share of obstacles in its path.

“Between 9/11, my dad’s cancer, and then Covid, there’s been some hard times here. My dad sold off some of the property,” said John. He pointed to a spectacular modern building on the opposite side of the fence. “That was a state of the art stage facility that we built. It’s now the home of some luxury sports cars.” He shrugged it off. “It’s okay. We’re buying back some of these surrounding buildings. This is just the beginning.”

As we walked past rows of new crew vans and parked Honey Wagons I commented that they were the nicest looking Honey Wagons I’ve ever seen. John said, “These are all new, and I’ve got six more new ones coming.” He pointed to the parking lot that connects the new space to the existing campus. “We’re paving all this next week,” he said.

“We were getting ready to start expansion two years ago,” he said, “and then Covid hit. The timing is right now.”

He could not be more right about that. These are exciting times for the Chicago film community. With the new Tax Incentives in place we can expect to see more feature film production soon, to add to the many successful TV series’ that have made Chicago their home.

Stage 5 is expected to be ready to go by July 1. Stages 6 & 7 are expected to be ready by the middle of August. Chicago Studio City has future plans for further expansion, to continue to meet the needs of our ever growing film market.

Chicago Studio City
5660 W. Taylor Street

The lobby entrance for the new stages is:
905 S. Menard Avenue

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Wielding decades of Film & TV production experience, Barbara Roche is the editor/publisher of Reel Chicago and Reel 360.