“Their investment in Assembly will accelerate Gray Television’s plans to transform the site of our former GM Plant into a true ‘Studio City,’” said Doraville Mayor Joseph Geierman in a press release. “The economic impact to Doraville, metro Atlanta, and the state of Georgia cannot be overstated. Additionally, this announcement dovetails perfectly with the city’s efforts to develop a new city center.”
GM opened the Doraville assembly plant in 1947. Some of the famous vehicles that rolled off the factory floor included 1950s Pontiac Bonnevilles and 1960s Chevy Impalas.
By the 2000s, the Doraville plant made largely forgettable minivans and GM shuttered the factory in 2008 amid a corporate restructuring. Its closure was seen as an economic double-whammy for Doraville coupled with the Great Recession.
In 2014, a development team that included Atlanta firms The Integral Group and Macauley+Schmit acquired the 165-acre site with grand plans for a mixed-use downtown for Doraville. The site was pitched to Fortune 500 companies.
A portion of the site was sold for car dealerships, another section became the headquarters for mattress giant Serta Simmons Bedding and about seven acres became Third Rail Studios, a small film studio what opened in 2016, and has been home to NBC’s “Good Girls” and Netflix’s “Ozark.”
Assembly Studios will be the focal point covering 43 acres. It will include soundstages, production offices, warehouse and mill buildings, event space and a parking deck. NBC will eventually have a full suite of offices to support television and film production. NBCUniversal will also manage Third Rail Studios.
Gray, which also owns Swirl Films, will have its own studio space there as well. In a press release, Gray said this leasing arrangement will leverage NBCU’s experience managing studio lots enabling Gray to focus on its own video production business.
Crews began building roadways and infrastructure at the Assembly Studios complex last summer, with construction for Gray’s Swirl Films starting late last year. NBCU’s facilities are expected to break ground this summer.
Gray said it hopes to have the Assembly Studios complex completed in the second half of 2023. If all goes well, Gray’s Swirl Films, NBCU and any third-party tenants can start film and television projects there by the end of the year.
On the rest of the land, Gray plans to build a town center over five to seven years that will include a boutique hotel, townhouses and apartments, retail, restaurants, entertainment venues including e-gaming facilities, a conference center, and office buildings.
Gray, a publicly traded company, said it plans to invest $130 million to $140 million in 2022 on the project and another $80 million to $90 million in capital spending in 2023.