Bridge Studios owner to buy City of Burnaby-owned lot for new massive film studio

Nov 27 2021, 12:30 am

An undeveloped 17-acre site owned by the City of Burnaby will be sold for $136 million for the precise purpose of being developed into a significant film and television production studio.

The municipal government announced today it has reached a deal with Larco Investments for the site at 3990 Marine Way — the southwest corner of the intersection of Glenlyon Parkway and Marine Way, just east of Riverway Golf Course, within the Big Bend precinct of business office parks.

Larco is already the owner of some of BC’s largest production facilities, including Bridge Studios on Boundary Road near SkyTrain Gilmore Station.

This follows an open bidding process initiated by the city in early 2021, which stipulated that it would “prioritize job-generating offers from proponents with experience in developing offices and new media and film production studios in Metro Vancouver.”

The bid process established that the minimum bid for acquiring the site is $63 million, while the minimum bid for a 60-year lease is $54.6 million. According to BC Assessment, the latest assessed value for the property is $60 million. The deal’s sale price for the site is more than double the minimum bids or the assessed value. Currently, the site is zoned for light industrial development.

3990 Marine Way Burnaby

Site of 3990 Marine Way, Burnaby. (Google Maps)

“When we raised the possibility of selling this parcel of city-owned land, we made it clear that our priority was to find a partner committed to putting down roots in Burnaby and creating jobs in our city,” said Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley in a statement today.

“Larco has a track record of creating industry-leading studio space and this project promises to support more than 1,000 well-paying jobs in our community.”

On this site, Larco is planning to build 16 sound stages with a combined total of over 300,000 sq ft of studio floor area. There would also be several mill shops and three storeys of office space.

Landscape improvements and enhancements would also be made to the riparian areas of Kaymar Creek and Glenlyon Creek, which cut through the site.

Larco also has two other film and television production studio projects in development in Burnaby. This includes a 19-acre site currently occupied by a large warehouse building at 3131 Lake City Way (next to SkyTrain Lake City Way Station), as well as a five-acre property at 7705 Griffiths Drive (next to SkyTrain’s Edmonds maintenance centre) that would see its self-storage structures demolished for a new purpose-built facility.

“With the addition of the development of the Marine Way site to our studio portfolio including Bridge, Griffiths, and Lake City, we are excited to become the largest studio operator in BC with 55 state-of-the-art custom-built sound stages as well as associated studio facilities and services for top production companies and content providers,” said Mansoor Lalji, principal of Larco Investments. “We look forward to continuing to grow this important industry for Burnaby and BC.”

3990 Marine Way Burnaby

Site of 3990 Marine Way, Burnaby. (Google Maps)

3990 Marine Way Burnaby

Site of 3990 Marine Way, Burnaby. (Google Maps)

Burnaby is already home to over 60% of BC’s purpose-built sound stages.

This follows last week’s announcement by a joint partnership between Musqueam Indian Band, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and Aquilini Development to redevelop the provincial government’s former 40-acre Willingdon Lands, located immediately west of the BCIT Burnaby campus, into a mixed-use development with 5,000 homes and a 450,000 sq ft film and television production studio.

In Langley Township, Martini Film Studios is also planning to build what has been billed as Canada’s largest film studio. A 25-acre facility at 216 Business Park will have 600,000 sq ft of floor area, including 300,000 sq ft of sound stages.

There is an immense demand for additional studio space in Metro Vancouver. The lack of space is currently the primary barrier to growing the local film and television production industry and adding jobs. With studios in Metro Vancouver reaching capacity, productions have been forced to send their work elsewhere to jurisdictions such as Ontario and Georgia, where studios have been proactively expanding their sound stage footprint.

According to the Vancouver Economic Commission, a total of $3.4 billion was directly spent in BC in 2020 by the local film, television, post-production, and animation industries. Production activity remained relatively high, despite the pandemic impacts in the first half of 2020. This was also only slightly lower than 2017’s total, within a decade-long trajectory of upward growth.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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