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Major film studio in Hamilton’s west harbour will open its doors in February

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A major film studio planned for Hamilton’s west harbour will open its doors in February.

Aeon Bayfront Studios, built by Aeon Studio Group, will be the centrepiece of Hamilton’s new so-called “studio district,” and will include a massive main stage, 6,500 square feet of furnished office space, and a large back lot.

The city, which has hosted productions such as Robocop and The Umbrella Academy, has touted film and TV as an area for potential economic growth. This studio is built on the Barton-Tiffany lands, space that’s been largely underused since the city bought it for an unrealized stadium project more than 10 years ago.

The Aeon project means “high-value, high-paying jobs for people in the film industry right here in Hamilton,” Mayor Fred Eisenberger said in a media release.

Hamilton, he said, plays a “key role in building Ontario’s film and screen industry.”

“Hamilton is Canada’s third-largest film cluster and is home to over 9,000 people who work in the film industry, and over 900 film businesses.”

Debbie Spence, the city’s creative industries business development consultant, says film is an area where Hamilton can see “consistent and accelerated growth.”

Overall, $59 million was spent in Hamilton on film productions in 2019, Spence said earlier this year. About $20 million of that was from the second season of The Umbrella Academy, and included restaurant meals and crew parting gifts.

New figures show more than 100 productions filmed in Hamilton this year, even during COVID-19.

The Aeon studio at 243 Queen St. N. is 80,000 square feet on three hectares (7.5 acres) of land, the company says. AVL Manufacturing operates there right now, but is moving to a new location.

It will be “among the best studios in Ontario by virtue of its size, ceiling height, clear span, on-site amenities and proximity to transportation and ancillary production services,” the company says.

The city and Aeon are promoting the studio district as a “live-work-play” hub that includes offices, retail and condo units.

The studio is one of a few projects in the works in the west harbour. Hamilton is also in the midst of redeveloping Piers 6, 7 and 8 to include 1,645 condo units, retail and institutional space, and a boardwalk. Fifteen per cent of the condo units will be “family sized,” which is two or more bedrooms.

Waterfront Shores Corporation is developing the area. The city and the company are in the midst of “constructive negotiations,” staff told a city council subcommittee on Wednesday. The city expect to sign a development agreement in January.

The boardwalk area known as Copps Park should be open in July, staff said. The city will also have to decide whether to build a public artisan market and open-air buildings on Piers 6 and 7.

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