Santa Clarita city planners recently received an application for a “one-stop review” for a movie studio complex in Placerita Canyon, city officials confirmed Monday.
A one-stop review is a preliminary process the city offers to anyone considering the proposal of a project in front of the Planning Commission, said Jason Crawford, economic development director for the city of Santa Clarita. The review is not considered a project application.
The proposal discusses an approximately 93-acre lot situated at the northeast corner of 13th and Arch streets in Newhall, which was described as “the primary entrance to Placerita Canyon,” according to city planner James Chow, who’s one of the people looking at the review.
The applicant or property developer is The Weber Group, according to city planners. The owner of the property is LA Railroad 93 LLC, which is a real estate investment company established by Ryan Millsap, CEO of Georgia-based Blackhall Studios. His Atlanta studio complex, launched in 2017, spans about 150 acres, according to the studios’ website, and a 2019 CNBC article referred to Blackhall Studios as the third largest in the state.
While the Santa Clarita lot is a somewhat smaller property, the one-stop review request includes more development than the Atlanta lot, with more than 1 million square feet of commercial space planned.
“The soundstages, in terms of square footage, is about 610,000 square feet,” according to Mike Marshall, associate planner for the city of Santa Clarita. The office buildings discussed would add about 200,000 square feet, and supporting warehouse buildings would include about a half-million square feet. A catering facility is mentioned at approximately 22,000 square feet.
The review request also includes a parking structure with six stories above ground and two subterranean levels, for 1,765 spaces.
The frontage for the proposed site includes the area previously used by the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival to shuttle people back and forth from their cars to the festival, back when the festival was held at nearby Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio.
“Blackhall Studios offers complete services for all types and sizes of productions — from small independent films to scripted television series to tent pole movies,” according to the studio’s website. An email to the company Monday night was not immediately returned.
While there have been plans for the site discussed in the past, it was purchased by Millsap within the last two months, according to city planners.
No formal application has been submitted, as the one-stop review is a preliminary move. The review process, which started about 10 days ago, generally takes about five weeks, which could change depending on the project.
“It’s our informal review process that allows someone to propose an idea, and we provide them feedback on that concept, before they fill out any sort of formal application,” Crawford said.
“It’s a pretty cool program for folks who just have an idea or a concept and can hear back from … all the different groups,” Crawford said, mentioning fire and building and safety, among other agencies. The idea is to give a property owner or developer information about any potential “red flags” in order to make designing a project in adherence to city and county regulations easier.
The Santa Clarita Valley in total has more than 30 sound stages and 10 movie ranches, according to the city’s Film Office figures from December.
Last year, the city estimated an economic impact of about $36 million to the local community.