Officials see bright future for studio complex

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By CHRIS JACKETT
Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – Although Unity Studios may have been the biggest name associated with the city’s Studio Complex, the business’s decision to move to Detroit hasn’t slowed down others who still are involved with the complex.

“We’re going to continue to move forward and develop it. We’re still on target,” Mayor Gary Burtka said. “We’re going to continue marketing it like we’ve always been. It’s going to continue to grow and be visible. Nothing has changed, except Unity is not there.”

Although Unity and the Lifton Institute for Media Skills both left the Allen Park Studio Complex Sept. 30, several other tenants remain and are flourishing at the site, officials say.

“We’re putting in a brand-new gym with $100,000 in equipment,” said Roger Kidd, controller at Stautzenberger Institute. “We’re going to be expanding our medical program. We’re in an aggressive growth pattern.”

Kidd said Stautzenberger, which currently has six programs, is awaiting state approval and accreditation for an additional 11 programs.

“It has a lot to do with that we are accredited. We are 100 percent driven to finding jobs. (Not that they aren’t, but) I think our goals are a little different,” Kidd said of Unity. “Everything I’ve seen, it’s going to grow. We’re dumping money into it and the city’s definitely behind it.”

Other Studio Complex tenants include Roush Enterprises, the Center for Film Studies, Global Renaissance Entertainment and production offices for two films: “Vamps” starring Sigourney Weaver, Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter, and “Salvation Boulevard” starring Pierce Brosnan.

“It’s not going to impact any of those,” Burtka said of Jimmy Lifton relocating his two businesses. “Unity is gone, they’re out of the picture. No one (within the complex) is going to be involved with them, to my knowledge.”

Kidd said the loss of Unity and the LIMS will not be damaging to the complex.

“It really surprised me,” Kidd said. “I don’t think it’ll have an overall effect on the project. The city has two steady tenants in us and Roush. The entertainment doesn’t go away with them.

“I never looked at them that they we’re going to bring movies to the complex. There never was an opportunity here that (Lifton) brought any major films up front.”

Unity did production for three films, including “War Flowers,” starring Christina Ricci, Jason Gedrick and Tom Berenger.

Burtka said the city is moving forward in developing the complex and talking to more than one potential tenant.

“It’s going to have an educational component, a film component,” he said. “We’re going to continue marketing it like we’ve always been.”

Kidd believes the nearly complete construction on Southfield Road also will help the complex bring in new business.

“We’ve had people from Hollywood come in here, and the road was a big problem for them,” Kidd said.

Also still on the table is a proposal by Global Renaissance Entertainment to purchase the Studio Complex from the city.

“We’re still negotiating with Global Renaissance Entertainment,” Burtka said. “The only money the city invested (was) tenant improvements to the building.”

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