Pinewood Studios floats $65 million FCDA bond issue


Paying for expansion to 18 sound stages, 1 million square feet of buildings under roof

The Fayette County Development Authority in late 2017 issued a $65 million bond for Pinewood Atlanta Studios. That bond follows the 2014 tax abatement bond for $45 million. FCDA President Joan Young said the tax abatement bonds, for which property taxes are paid in increasing increments over time, represent a small portion of Pinewood Atlanta Studio’s $110 million investment in the 288-acre property on Veterans Parkway in Fayetteville.

Fayette County Development Authority President Joan Young.
Fayette County Development Authority President Joan Young.

“Pinewood is a great corporate citizen and a tremendous asset to Fayette County. We are delighted to partner with Pinewood to assist the company in their mission to set the stage for great storytellers to entertain the world,” said Young.

The 2014 industrial revenue bond (IRB), issued by FCDA in December 2013, totaled $45 million for the Pinewood Atlanta development on the 288-acre property on Veterans Parkway and the adjacent Rivers Elementary School property, known now as the Pinewood Production Centre. Referenced as the 2014 bond dealing with Phase 1 of the development, the funds were used for the first six soundstages, two workshops, office and tenant space.

The 2017 bond totaling $65 million deals with the expansion that continues to occur at Pinewood Atlanta. To date, the studio property is home to 18 soundstages and other structures totaling more than 1 million sq. ft.

In 2012 the tax bill on the 288 vacant acres that would become the studio was $9,672.72. Pinewood Atlanta Studios for 2017 will pay a total of $318,965 in property and other taxes.

The first property tax bill for the 288-acre Pinewood Atlanta Studios property and the Pinewood Production Centre property came in 2014. That initial year required the payment of taxes equivalent to 5 percent of the value, followed by 10 percent in 2015, 15 percent in 2016 and 20 percent for 2017.

Unlike the 2014 bond that covered 20 years, the 2017 bond comes with a seven-year term.

“Pinewood has invested more than $100 million in Fayette County, and they are getting a tax break,” Young said, explaining that, “It is not what they are getting, it’s what they are giving.”

“This is what a development authority does,” said Young. “If you don’t assist large investors, they will go to another community.”

Young emphasized that, as a result of Pinewood Atlanta Studios on Fayetteville’s west side, the immediate area is now home to the large Pinewood Forrest development and the Georgia Fim Academy. Though no official estimate has been forthcoming, it is easily conceivable that, at build-out, commercial and residential property at Pinewood Forrest could be valued in the hundreds of millions.

“Pinewood Atlanta is the hub of what’s coming here,” said Young.

While some in the community were vocal about the lack of taxes being paid at both sites when the project began, a review of tax bills provided by the Fayette County Tax Commissioner’s office tells a different tale.

What was $9,672.72 in property taxes on undeveloped property in 2012 became:

• $20,636.82 in 2014 at 5 percent

• $57,238.26 in 2015 at 10 percent

• $139,357.40 in 2016 at 15 percent

• $265,034.19 in 2017 at 20 percent

Property taxes on the 26-acre production centre property showed:

• $3,277.21 in 2014 at 5 percent

• $11,763.70 in 2015 at 10 percent

• $16,452.51 in 2016 at 15 percent

• $26,754.22 in 2017 at 20 percent