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Medient eyes January start for site road work

POSTED: November 21, 2013 7:54 p.m.
Photo by Pat Donahue/

Medient CEO Manu Kumaran, sitting next to IDA member Jimmy Wells, talks about the studio’s development schedule.

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The start for heavy construction at Medient Studios has been pushed back a few months, and CEO Manu Kumaran said the company is on the verge of another announcement.

Kumaran said at Tuesday’s Effingham Industrial Development Authority meeting that he hopes to announce a general contractor for the 1,550-acre studio complex to be built near Interstate 16 and Old River Road.

Kumaran said the studio has revised some of its development activities, in part because of the permitting required for the clearing to be done at the site.

"That process hopefully will get completed," he said. "Other than that, everything is in the shape it should be."

Medient received a nationwide permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last month to build the two road crossings needed to start development on the property. With the permit, Medient can build approach roads on two sides of the property, allowing heavy equipment and workers to move into the area where the studioplex will be built.

The start of road construction, originally pegged for a December start, is being delayed until January 2014. Work on power, water and sewer lines, initially planned to get under way next month, has been pushed back until September. That work is expected to take a month to finish, once it starts.

The development of the master plan is expected to be done by the middle of next month, and the development of regional impact to be submitted to the Coastal Regional Commission is slated to be ready Dec. 24.

Work on the main studio is being delayed by only a month, from January to February, and it is projected to take 200 days to complete.

The studio expects to announce its general contractor early next week, "and then we’ll start to see the movement on the ground," Kumaran said.

The start of local recruitment is holding to its original schedule, and the bulk of the first phase of construction is slotted to be done by the end of 2014. The leaf structure, which will be a massive amphitheater, could be ready in early 2015.

"The next year should be a big year," said IDA Chairman Dennis Webb.

The studio also is lining up projects to film, Kumaran said, and announced several new additions to its team, including Jay Self. The former head of the Savannah Film Office has been hired as director of corporate affairs.

Kumaran said the studio will have a slate of films to take to the Berlin International Film Festival, to be held in February.

"We have made significant strides in the content side," he said. "I’m excited."

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