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IDA holds off on Medient supplemental agreement

POSTED: June 23, 2014 7:28 p.m.
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Above is what has been planned for the Medient Studios site.

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A supplemental project agreement between the Effingham Industrial Development Authority and a film studio planning to build a massive production facility in Effingham is on hold, as the studio reorganizes its leadership.

IDA attorney Ted Carellas advised the board to postpone any action until Medient Studios finalizes its new management group. Co-founder Manu Kumaran was ousted last week as chief executive officer and chairman of the board, with Jake Shapiro taking over as CEO and Charles Koppelman named board chairman.

“We were close to having a supplemental project agreement,” Carellas said. “We thought it was prudent to hold off on it. We’re still going to need it. I think the new group needs to get up to speed.”

The supplemental project agreement spells out the timelines for the project, which is expected to change in scope but not in its nature. Shapiro said two weeks ago, after Kumaran was ousted, that Medient was committed to building its studioplex in Effingham County. But many of the other accoutrements were not going to be built.

IDA CEO John Henry said Shapiro and Megan Murphy of Medient met with IDA representatives two weeks ago to discuss the Medient management changes.

“The primary outcome of that meeting was the Medient planned to focus on revenue-generating portions of the development,” Henry said. “They desire to tone down the architectural aspects and focus on building one facility at a time. We discussed the commitments Medient has made to the development and the requirements to qualify for the incentives and large amount of acreage that is committed to the project.”

Henry added a revised master plan could be in the works and possibly a new supplemental project agreement.

“Both parties will be working to gather information, and several meetings will be forthcoming over the next couple of weeks as we work to assure the project satisfies the agreed upon conditions with the IDA,” Henry said.

Medient officials announced Friday that wetlands mitigation permits have been purchased, and wetlands crossings have been installed. Also completed are the access road survey and staking, and the road is being cleared of timber. Timber also has been cleared from the studio site.

The initial master plan is being amended, according to the company, to speed construction. Hussey, Gay, Bell and DeYoung also has been selected as the project engineer. The structural architect and engineers have completed the initial studio designs.

Medient also expects to announce its interior studio architect shortly and the architecture team is being assembled.

“With Mr. Shapiro taking charge of Medient, the project has gained immediate momentum,” said Jeremy Blackburn, CEO of Shore Development and Construction, the studioplex contractor. “The boost from the new management team, along with their enthusiasm and energy is now taking place in a sophisticated and strategic manner that we fully support.”

The studio also announced all outstanding invoices from vendors, contractors and consultants who have been involved in the studioplex have been paid.

Carellas said the IDA planned on tightening the supplemental agreement in a conference call with Medient prior to the management shakeup.

“This just changes the dates and reiterates some things,” he said of the modified agreement. “It was not a significant change.”

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