Bastrop is considering becoming the state’s second city to be designated as a Media Production Development Zone by the Texas Film Commission. At its Jan. 11 meeting, it will take its final vote on whether to apply for the designation.
A Media Production Development Zone is a designated area for permanent moving-image production sites.
Such zones receive tax exemptions for the construction, maintenance, expansion, improvement and renovation of a media production facility for a two-year period. The kinds of production facilities that could be built on site include animation/computer-generated imagery studios, post-production facilities, sound stages and video game development studios.
The City Council approved a development agreement with Bastrop Colorado Bend, LLC in June 2021 to develop about 546 acres into mixed commercial developments at 1240 Lover’s Lane in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
The council heard a review of the development project during its Dec. 14 meeting, when it first voted to designate the 546 acres as a Media Production Development Zone and to nominate the area to be designated as a MPDZ by the Texas Film Commission.
The development is proposed to house six film studios totaling to 108,000 square feet, a 46,000-square foot office building and 108,000 square-foot warehouse. Construction is estimated to cost $40.3 million.
Mayor Connie Schroeder said she is anticipating the film development because it would bring tax money to the area with minimal disturbances.
“The film industry brings a lot of money from an economic development standpoint to a community without overly taxing the infrastructure,” Schroeder told the Bastrop Advertiser. “So, for example, some industries come to town and they have a huge need for wastewater or they consume a lot of water, or they have really heavy trucks that tear up the roads or things like that — sometimes there’s consequences.
“But the film industry is considered a clean industry, a green industry.”
If the City Council next week approves designating the Bastrop Colorado Bend property as a Media Production Development Zone as well as approves nominating the property to be designated as such by the Texas Film Commission, construction would start in June and finish August 2023. Additionally, the film facility would start hiring employees in September 2023 and would be fully operational by November 2023.
There can only be five Media Production Development Zones across the state at once, and according to Ali Nichols, a production consultant at the Texas Film Commission, Fort Worth is currently the only city in the state with that designation.
Bastrop Colorado Bend contracted Impact DataSource, a third party to conduct an economic impact study in August 2021 which focused on the media production development’s benefits and costs over the next 12 years.
If Bastrop is designated a Media Production Development Zone, the Bastrop Colorado Bend development would be exempt from paying taxes for construction and the city would lose out on about $121,000, according to the study. But in the first decade of operations, the facility is estimated to raise nearly $4 million in sales taxes.
The development is also projected to raise $3.6 million in utility revenue and $1.6 million of hotel occupancy taxes. The net benefits for the city in the first decade of production utility is estimated to be around $7.2 million; Bastrop County is expected to earn $2.7 million; and the Bastrop school district would receive $1.1 million.
Additionally, according to the economic impact study, the studio is projected to generate $47.45 million in tax revenue for the state in the first decade of operation.
The facility is also expected to produce 1,443 “direct, indirect and induced” jobs.
In 2019, Bastrop County was recognized by the state legislature as the “Film Hospitality Capital of Texas.” Classic films including “Hope Floats” and “Tree of Life” were filmed in the county.
Schroeder said she believes the film industry is eyeing Bastrop for its greenery.
“If you think about the Colorado River, you can have pine trees in one shot, and you can be in an open meadow in the next shot, and you can run a horse across the parts of the Colorado River and make it seem like it’s 1832,” she said. “And you can do all of that and still be, you know, within 10 minutes of Bastrop.”