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Las Cruces City Council Votes To Allow City Manager To Negotiate For Soundstage

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Las Cruces City Council voted to allow city staff to negotiate for a building that can be turned into a potential Film and Media Soundstage by a vote of 5 to 1.

Las Cruces City Council voted to give the city manager the authority to negotiate the purchase of a building to be turned into a Sound Stage reallocating $4 million for the project. $3 million from the Hold Harmless GRT Bond Funding, and about $1 million in state appropriated funds.

City Councilor Greg Smith says this could bring new economic development to Las Cruces.

“It’s not that we relish taking big risks with public money,” Smith said. “On the other hand we set up the Hold Harmless GRT fund to try to find ways to diversify our economy, and expand and that’s going to involve a certain amount of risk. But with the property that we’re talking about we’re also looking at the opportunity to if for some reason this doesn’t work out, we then have other ways that the property can be used.”

Smith says this resolution allows the city manager to negotiate, but not purchase a building.

“Basically we only OK’d at this point the negotiations, the looking at it,” Smith said. “Spending money to assess it, and it may very well turn out that it’s not a good deal. So, if that indeed is the case then we’ll have to make that determination.”

State Representative and President of Film Las Cruces Jeff Steinborn says they have at least one property in mind, and a list of qualifications for potential buildings.

“What we found is the cost per square feet of retrofitting an existing building is a heck of a lot less than building something from new,” Steinborn said. “And I think we have an opportunity here to acquire an existing building that’s literally twice as much space for half the money of building something from scratch. That’ll allow us to attract a much bigger production, TV or film production, which is really the goal here. To be able to attract the major productions that are coming to New Mexico in the Northern part of the state, and be able to bring them here.

Steinborn says there is a potential for a large return on investment.

“To put it in perspective,” Steinborn said. “A TV show films in your community that may film 8-10 episodes will generally spend about $1 million a week on a facility, so if you have a facility that costs you $2-3 million to acquire and you’re able to bring in a production that spends $1 million a week the economics kind of speak for themselves, and only a portion of that gets spent of the crew. The rest of that is being spent in town on small businesses, hotels, restaurants and lumber stores.”

Mayor Ken Miyagishima was the only person to vote against the resolution because of a discrepancy he saw in numbers from a work session to numbers given before the vote.

 

Samantha Sonner was a multimedia reporter for KRWG- TV/FM.