Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot joined City, community, and business leaders attend the groundbreaking ceremony for Regal Mile Studios Campus 1, a 380,000 square foot, seven-acre enclosed media campus and sound stage development in the heart of Chicago’s South Side.
As we reported earlier, the executive producer of The Chi television series, Derek Dudley is joining forces with Loop Capital Chairman and CEO, Jim Reynolds with plans for a film studio that they expect will bring thousands of jobs to the South Shore area. This supports Mayor Lightfoot’s signature INVEST South/West initiative with a focus on new development on the South Side.
“Through this $100M investment to develop a new, state-of-the-art media campus in the South Shore neighborhood, INVEST South/West will expand educational opportunities for young people and equip them with the skills they need to thrive and succeed in the film and media industry,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “I am thrilled that this project not only puts community voices front and center, but also enhances Chicago’s presence in the entertainment industry. Ultimately, this development will support our South Side residents and contribute to our prosperous, post-pandemic recovery.”
“This campus is full steam ahead on development,” said Jim Reynolds of Loop Capital. A son of the South Side, this project holds special meaning for him. As the chairman of Loop Capital, Reynolds operates offices in every major American city. But Chicago is his home and shepherding this venture has proved to be both good business and a labor of love. “I am proud to be part of Regal Mile Studios. It marries good business and social impact. Its success will prove a recipe that can—and will—make a profoundly positive difference in the lives of young people whose opportunities are, at present, terribly limited. I commend the Mayor’s Office and the City of Chicago for being wholly supportive.”
While the neighborhood is evolving and the context for commercial development is ever more inviting, it is a neighborhood with a challenging reputation. “All the more reason to build here and create positive social impact. We are so happy Loop Capital Real Estate Partners chose a site in the 8th Ward,” said Alderman Michelle Harris. “This team has established firm social impact goals for the Campus. These include reducing economic insecurity and inequality through new educational opportunities and job readiness training programs. We are engaged in very positive discussions with CEO of CPS, Pedro Martinez to help create educational opportunities in our public schools for film and television production training.”
Regal Mile Studios Campus 1 submitted its application for entitlements in 2021 and is aiming to begin construction in 2023 for fall 2024 occupancy. Dakota Development ensures a high-quality completion with programming borrowed from their many decades building 5-star hotels. “There are a lot of bells and whistles here including a gym, recreation space and hospitality. We are also excited about expanding development beyond the campus walls to create a dynamic destination and bring back the energy of The Regal Theater,” said Joe Faust, Dakota Development Principal and longtime Chicago resident.
Derek Dudley is a Regal Mile Studios partner and producer of Showtime’s The Chi. A native of the South Side, Dudley believes the 79th and Stony Island Ave site is ideal, saying, “It has been a long-held dream of mine to help energize the entertainment industry in my hometown and right in the neighborhood I grew up in. The community support has been tremendous.”
“We have been in predevelopment since 2018—a long time, because we have been working through site selection and various iterations until we got it just right. This site has sat vacant for decades, paving the way for responsible urban infill development, and it has great expansion potential. We have stringent technical and financial criteria to ensure economic sustainability along with specific ESG goals in order to fulfill our mandates,” said Susan Cronin with Loop Capital Real Estate Partners.
Joseph Dabbah, a general partner in the development, added, “We are excited to cultivate something meaningful here. This is a continuation of our commitment to civic revitalization. It is especially exciting for me to be part of a team that brings something fresh and new to the City of Chicago, and in particular to this South Side community.”
“Chicago has long been at capacity,” said Roy Ashton, partner at The Gersh Agency who represents Regal Mile Studios and its principals. “With demand for content rising across the media industry and potential film tax credit legislation poised to expand in Illinois, the opportunity to finally expand the Chicago market is stronger than ever.”
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