‘Road to nowhere’ begins to pay off in Pinewood Studios taxes

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Pinewood Studios entrance with Soundstage 2 in background. Photo/Marie Thomas.
Pinewood Studios entrance with Soundstage 2 in background. Photo/Marie Thomas.

Pinewood Atlanta Studios’ property tax payment this year to be 43 times more than same raw land brought in 2012

It was only a few years ago that Veterans Parkway on Fayetteville’s west side was touted by some opponents of the roadway as “the road to nowhere.” For 2018, the famous beneficiary of that parkway, Pinewood Atlanta Studios, will write a check for nearly $417,000 for property taxes on the 288-acre studio property and 26-acre production centre locations. Those numbers continue to grow each year.

The 288-acre property for 2018, including soundstages, offices, warehouses and vendor buildings, is valued at approximately $114 million. Taxes on the property for 2018 will generate $381,350. That compares to the $9,673 in taxes paid on the 288 acres in 2012 before the studio development began.

But there is more. Each successive year will bring additional property tax dollars given that the Phase 1 construction on the studio property benefitted from a tax abatement program that has Pinewood Atlanta LLC paying increasing incrementally higher taxes at 5 percent a year. This year’s tax bill reflects 25 percent of the value.

Along with that, the Phase 2 portion of the studio project, also located on the 288-acre tract, received a 10-year abatement agreement whereby taxes are paid at a 10 percent increment each year. This year, the rate on Phase 2 properties is 30 percent.

Those figures do not include the Pinewood Production Centre across Sandy Creek Road from the studios. Pinewood Atlanta LLC will write a check for $35,483 this year for production centre taxes, a figure also based on the 25 percent increment. Prior to the purchase, the property paid no taxes since it was the site of Rivers Elementary School, owned by the Fayette County Board of Education.

Pinewood Atlanta, by virtue of a 20-year leasehold agreement with the Fayette County Development Authority (FCDA), committed to a tax rate that grows incrementally by five percent each year until 100 percent of property taxes are paid each year.

The industrial revenue bonds (IRBs) issued by FCDA in 2013 totaled $52 million for the Pinewood Atlanta Studios development on the 288-acre property on Veterans Parkway and the adjacent Rivers Elementary School property, now the Pinewood Production Centre.

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 taxes 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

• $381,351.11 in 2018 at 25 percent

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

• $35,483.65 in 2018 at 25 percent

There is more to the story in terms of contribution to the local community. Sales taxes are generated on the studio property through retail outlets such as Home Depot. Beyond that, the multitude of jobs found on studio property generate an unknown amount of purchases and sales tax revenues in the community.

The property tax figures above do not include the 234-acre Pinewood Forest property on Veterans Parkway across from the studio.