City approves plan for $43.7 million West Side studio run by L.A.’s Raleigh Studios

If they build it, will they come? That’s the expectation of Canadian-owned Raleigh Studios of Santa Monica, and the local developers behind the $43.7 million Central City Studios. The Chicago Plan Commission last week approved the plan for the West Side movie studio.

The studio will be located at 4300 W. Roosevelt Road on a proposed 180,000-sq. ft. complex that is ironically situated less than two miles from John Crededio’s now-defunct Chicago Studio City. It will have five stages for film and TV production, and a three-story office building.

The complex is expected to contribute more than $94 million annually to the city’s economy, according to the Planning and Development Department. As many as 1,250 full and part-time jobs could be created, according to city officials.

The city would provide $10.5 million in economic grants for the project, assuming the City Council will give it final approval. Under the proposed deal, Raleigh Enterprises would pay the city the appraised value of the $1.1 million for the site.

Raleigh Enterprises will operate the studio and equip it. Raleigh officials said it expects to hire from the North Lawndale community. A group headed by Don Jackson of Central City Productions is expected to be a minority partner in the complex.

The land was an illegal dump that had been created by FBI mole John Christopher, a key figure in the federal Silver Shovel corruption investigation. A two-year cleanup was completed in 1997.

Chicago Studio City, the biggest and best motion picture complex with five sound stages, three office buildings and an acre of parking, was founded in 1985. It was the site of some 500 movies and TV shows until 2002, when a production slowdown, complicated by political maneuvering, forced the owner to sell off parcels of the complex.