LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The lights of Hollywood could soon be shining in Las Vegas through the largest proposed tax-break bill in Nevada history, but neighbors around one of the potential production studio sites are divided on moviemaking in their backyard.
Wednesday, Nevada legislators heard from actor Mark Wahlberg and developers advocating for SB 496. Democratic Nevada Senator Roberta Lange, who introduced the bill, refers to it as “The Film Bill.”
It proposes up to $190 million in tax breaks each year for production studios to operate in Southern Nevada until 2043. Current Nevada law caps these tax breaks at $10 million annually.
Speakers indicated that Sony Pictures and Disney are interested in the move. Howard Hughes Corporation CEO David O’Reilly, who has partnered with Sony on a new production studio, additionally indicated to 8 News Now that Apple is considering the move, too.
“Sony, Apple, everybody else who may potentially want to come here, needs to spend $633 million in the state,” O’Reilly said during a virtual interview Wednesday afternoon. “To access the $190 million of tax credits, it will take $633 million of content creation (each year).”
SUMMERLIN STUDIOS RENDERING:
The first studio in the southwest valley, referred to as “Zone One” in the bill, was announced weeks ago. It would also serve as an education pipeline for UNLV film students through an $8 million training facility on-site, O’Reilly said. This land sits at Durango Drive and Sunset Road off the 215 Beltway.
Wednesday, plans were revealed for the second proposed location, located in Summerlin South at Flamingo Road and Town Center Drive. O’Reilly anticipates the 60 acres to be split at least in half between the production studios and a “mixed-use, vibrant” retail space and possibly a hotel.
SUMMERLIN CAMPUS AREAS:
“The studio includes both your three-story buildings where you build sets, your sound stages. It includes a volume studio, which is those green rooms where they filmed things like Star Wars and the Mandalorian,” O’Reilly said. As for the rest of the project, he describes it as “a great retail component with local, authentic retailers.”
The Summerlin location currently houses a furniture store, some office spaces and a lot of dirt. But, the people who live directly around the property are split. They either don’t want a movie studio in their backyard, or they cannot wait for the spotlight.
JoEllen Goforth, for one, is concerned with her “quiet” neighborhood turning into a scene from a loud movie, despite the other kinds of business that could be there.
“Well, it’s a lot better than a prison,” Goforth said outside her home Thursday morning. “I just picture a lot of late-night shooting, losing our views (of the Las Vegas Strip). It’s not what I want.”
Others, like Luke Garrabrant, see their dreams of working in movies coming to life. He currently is taking film production classes in school, he says.
“I think it’s awesome that we can see something that, possibly, you get the chance to help with and then put on the big screen,” Garrabrant said outside his house Thursday morning.
In an industry that has no shortage of talent and operators, O’Reilly ensures that the language of SB 496 requires editors, boom operators, camera workers and other behind-the-scenes jobs to be filled with Las Vegan locals.
“The bill’s also structured that over 50% of the below-the-line costs need to be local employees, or you don’t have access to the credit,” O’Reilly said. “There are folks that say ‘Hey, we can use this money for education, for healthcare.’ But, it’s money that doesn’t exist, that we’re helping to try to create exist by bringing these companies here, having them grow our economy, so that we have more to invest back into basic services.”
“This is a tax credit that is only earned when people spend dollars — dollars in this state.”
O’Reilly anticipates $2.6 billion in economic impacts to Southern Nevada if the bill passes.
SB 496 must be passed by state lawmakers by this Monday, when this legislative session ends, to avoid a special session. When asked if he anticipates having to call a special session for that passage, O’Reilly responded, “One hurdle at a time.”