Work on movie studio access road could begin in early February.
Plymouth Rock Studios Real Estate CEO Bill Wynne’s eyes turn inward as he considers the obstacle course in front of him, and a shimmering fall day outside his office window turns to winter in his mind.
He’s been over these mental hurdles a hundred times, carefully considering each leg of a journey he began more than two years ago.
This latest step may look small, but it’s actually the launching pad.
PRS is asking Town Meeting to approve a reconfiguration of the studio access road in order to save more than 3 acres of trees, increase the buffer and enhance the Plymouth South Middle School bike trail.
“If we get this approved, we anticipate it will be 45 to 90 days to get started,” PRS Vice President of Public Affairs Kevin O’Reilly said. “But the answer is not quite as simple as picking a date on the calendar.”
“We want to get the word out on the groundbreaking,” Wynne added.
Why? Because it’s a question they’ve been fielding for months now, ever since the studio closed on its construction loan.
In September, PRS announced it had secured a $550 million loan for the movie studio complex through the global financing and investment firm Prosperity International of Orlando, Fla.
Within 45 to 90 days, studio executives also expect to close on the Waverly Oaks Golf Club property, receive word on a $22.5 million federal grant they’ve applied for, learn if they’ve qualified for a 2 percent state loan for the sewer and water hookup, record the layout and other documents with the Registry of Deeds, sign off on the road design and storm water drainage, and obtain local grading permits and the legal right to perform work on town property. In addition, PRS is required to post performance and completion bonds as well as insurance to guarantee the work will be finished.
“We’ve closed on the construction loan, closed the collateral. We’re now inside a process toward funding,” PRS Chairman and Executive Managing Officer David Kirkpatrick said, smiling. “It’s a big flipping project.”
The funding to which Kirkpatrick refers is for the infrastructure. And like any developer, PRS is exercising its options, seeking available grants for money the state all but promised the company through I-Cubed legislation before denying PRS’s application in June.
“Since the denial of the I-Cubed money, we’ve been diligently pursuing alternative funding sources for this infrastructure, including state and federal grants, loans, stimulus money and private funding,” Wynne said.
Back in April 2007, the state Office of Business Development rolled out a list of incentives for PRS, which was then going by the title Project Julia. In a letter, that office encouraged the company to locate in Massachusetts, where it could save up to $103 million through state programs. Part of this $103 million carrot was a $55 million I-Cubed grant for infrastructure improvements. PRS, which had been considering locations other states for its studio, opted for Massachusetts on the strength of this proposal. The studio project appeared to meet or exceed the I-Cubed requirements.
Now PRS awaits news on other grant applications to help pay for improvements to the Clark and Long Pond roads intersection and Clark Road, and sewer and water line hookups from the studio and high school to the town’s wastewater treatment facility on Camelot Drive. Traffic improvements will run $22.5 million; the sewer and water lines should cost about $18 million.
“PRS remains optimistic that these dedicated public infrastructure funds will be forthcoming, but is also preparing for other contingencies, including the possibility of private funding for the off-site infrastructure,” O’Reilly said.
“There’s a lot of moving parts,” Wynne added.