Plans for the new Netflix studio campus at Fort Monmouth call for soundstages ranging in size from 15,000 to 40,000 square feet, with a total buildout ranging from 180,000 to 480,000 square feet, along with improvements and uses associated with principal film use. Renderings courtesy: Netflix
By Joshua Burd
State officials have approved Netflix’s bid to acquire nearly 300 acres at the former Fort Monmouth property, where it plans to build 12 soundstages totaling nearly 500,000 square feet and other facilities with a combined investment of more than $900 million.
The streaming giant joined Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday to announce the deal, in which the company will pay $55 million for the so-called Mega Parcel in Eatontown and Oceanport, with an estimated total capital investment of $848 million. According to the announcement, the project will consist of a film studio campus completed in multiple phases, the first of which would comprise soundstages ranging in size from 15,000 to 40,000 square feet, with a total buildout ranging from 180,000 to 480,000 square feet, along with improvements and uses associated with principal film use such as mill space, production support buildings and others.
The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority approved the agreement at its monthly board meeting on Wednesday, which came two months after Netflix emerged as the preferred bidder for the sprawling parcel along Route 35. State officials estimate the project would generate more than 3,500 full-time jobs during construction and, once operational, would provide at least 1,400 positions.
“This transformative investment will serve as a cornerstone in our efforts to create a thriving industry from whole cloth,” Murphy said. “As a result of nearly a billion dollars in film production spending, New Jersey will further solidify its status as an emerging national leader in the television and film industries. Additionally, Netflix’s substantial direct investment will stimulate job creation and spark an entirely new ecosystem of housing, hotels, and ancillary businesses and services, bringing with it countless additional jobs and boosting the regional economy.”
The 292-acre Mega Parcel, which represents more than a quarter of the former U.S. Army base, drew proposals from three other bidders: Extell Acquisitions LLC, Mega Parcel Development LLC and RDR Partners LLC, a joint venture of Russo Development, Dinallo Development and River Development Equities. It’s currently home to former residential, administrative, and R&D buildings, warehouses, workshops and other general-purpose facilities.
“We’re thrilled to continue and expand our significant investment in New Jersey and North America,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer. “We believe a Netflix studio can boost the local and state economy with thousands of new jobs and billions in economic output, while sparking a vibrant production ecosystem in New Jersey. We look forward to working with Governor Murphy, his administration and local leaders to finalize this deal in the months ahead. We thank the FMERA board and their staff for selecting Netflix as the winning bid and for supporting our mission to create a state-of-the-art production facility at Fort Monmouth.”
Netflix must complete construction of phase one within 48 months of the date of the initial closing, according to the draft purchase and redevelopment agreement. The pact includes a due diligence period of at least 90 days that may be extended by FMERA.
“Our team is incredibly passionate about Fort Monmouth’s revitalization, and is committed to surpassing the Fort’s prior role as a major economic driver in the region,” FMERA Executive Director Kara Kopach said. “A project of this scale has the potential not only to create thousands of jobs, but will also result in significant investment on the Fort, and spur local development in support of the project. The magnitude of Netflix’s investment is an absolute windfall for our stakeholders and the state of New Jersey. We’re eager to see this project come to fruition.”
Netflix declared its interest in the Mega Parcel in fall 2021, as reported by The New York Times. Murphy and his team have been courting the company since at least 2019, dangling lucrative tax credits for the film and television industry that New Jersey had reinstated in 2018 and subsequently expanded.
“Since the beginning of this administration, it has been a top priority of ours to build New Jersey’s film and television industry,” First Lady Tammy Murphy said. “It is so exciting that our state has just added another force to its ranks with the addition of Netflix’s production facility at Fort Monmouth. This announcement comes with a promise of opportunity to the residents, business owners, workers and many others across our state. Not only will the facility generate thousands of new jobs, but it will also bring increased economic activity to our local and small owned businesses, ultimately leaving a lasting, positive impact on our great state’s economy well beyond this administration.”
Netflix will pay $55 million for the parcel, including a utility contribution of $5 million and the FMERA office relocation fee of $3 million, per the terms of the state’s solicitation.
“Netflix’s decision to make a major investment in New Jersey is crystal clear evidence that Gov. Murphy’s commitment to building a thriving film and television industry in New Jersey is working,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of the state’s Economic Development Authority. “New Jersey is the birthplace of film, and under Gov. Murphy’s leadership our state continues to be a place where production companies thrive. This project marks an extraordinary next chapter in the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth following the devastating closure of the base in 2011.”