Hollywood in Weber County? Investors pursuing film studio and school proposal

Hollywood in Weber County? Investors pursuing film studio and school proposal

OGDEN — A little bit of Hollywood could be coming to Weber County.

A team of investors, including a developer behind a Park City film studio, is pursuing creation of a studio, film school and rodeo arena on a 90-acre parcel in western Weber County. The ambitious plans are still preliminary, but those involved envision it as a place for moviemakers, visitors wanting to soak in the Hollywood atmosphere and students interested in pursuing film careers.

“People who visit may have the opportunity to be in a film at any time,” said Matthew Bartlett, a partner in the project and a Riverdale attorney. Moreover, he said, it could create 600 jobs, directly and indirectly.

The working name of the facility is the Promontory Studio Ranch and Bartlett described it as “a film ranch” with a western and agricultural feel. It would be built in western Weber County, bordered roughly by 2700 West on the west, 1200 South on the south and the Weber River, running diagonally on the northern and eastern sides of the triangle-shaped property.

Among the proposed elements are a soundstage studio, recording studios, a “high-end hotel,” a rodeo arena that could seat 3,500 to 4,000 people, walking paths, a horse pasture and more. The architectural style would aim to fit the agricultural setting of western Weber County and the public would be invited to visit.

“We want people to feel this is a place they can come and enjoy,” Bartlett said. What’s more, he wants the site “to be 100% filmable.”

Bartlett has submitted preliminary plans to the Weber County Planning Division as part of a request to get the property rezoned from agricultural to commercial and he offered details to the Western Weber Planning Commission during a work session on Tuesday. The planning commission is tentatively set to make a recommendation on the zoning request at its June 11 meeting.

“I think this is awesome,” said Greg Bell, a planning commission member. The location, about two miles west of the Interstate 15-West 12th Street intersection, is as good a place as any in the zone for commercial development, he thinks.

Meantime, Bartlett said most of the financing for the project is “kind of preliminarily in place,” but that the plans need to keep moving forward to keep the funding in place. He didn’t offer a precise price tag, but indicated the cost would be sizable.

“They’re not cheap to build, I can say that. It’s a substantial investment in the community,” Bartlett said. He’d like to see the facility open in late 2020 or early 2021.

Aside from Bartlett, he said partners in the project include Todd Bay of Bay Entertainment Group and Giant Entertainment and Management of Westlake Village, California.

Bay helped create Park City Film Studios in Park City, which has since changed ownership and become Utah Film Studios, according to Marshall Moore, a Utah Film Studios vice president. The ABC television series Blood and Oil was filmed at Park City Film Studios, according to Bartlett, while the new incarnation, Utah Film Studios, is the location for filming of Yellowstone, the Paramount Network TV show.

The Weber County studio would earn money, at least in part, by renting out use of the facilities to filmmakers and Bartlett maintains that there’s plenty of demand for such space. Studios in California, he said, are perpetually booked.

Indeed, he touted proximity of the location to Ogden-Hinckley Airport. “The developers are already exploring ways in which to increase air traffic from Southern California directly to the Ogden-Hinckley Airport as a means of bringing those people to the county,” read the plans submitted to county planners.

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