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IDA OKs delay in studio development schedule
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The Effingham Industrial Development Authority has approved giving a film studio planning a massive project in the county an extra 30 days to finish its development schedule.

The IDA and Medient Studios entered into a memorandum of understanding last month, paving the way for Medient to build a $90 million film, DVD and video game production facility, along with hotels and shopping. CEO Manu Kumaran said at the time he aimed to start shooting movies at the Effingham location this year.

IDA CEO John Henry, though, cautioned that the studios’ agenda might have been overly aggressive.

“Our timeline isn’t nearly as imperative as theirs is,” he said.

Medient has brought in a project manager, and the company has met with Effingham County Administrator David Crawley and zoning administrator George Shaw “to get a game plan of what they can do and how they can do it,” Henry said.

The studio will take up the entire northern tract at the IDA’s Interstate 16 property, nearly 1,500 acres.

“We announced this one month ago today,” Henry said Thursday, “and I have not stopped since. We have been swamped.”

IDA members also approved a lease for Medient to have office space at a building abutting the northern tract. The IDA entered into a lease with R.B. Baker Company for the building. The IDA’s lease begins May 1.

The building, a large house, sits at the projected entrance to the north tract, and the IDA entered into the lease in January for $1,200 a month. The building is approximately 2,200 square feet, and there is a well and a septic tank on-site.

The IDA initially wanted the building in order to have a place to host site selectors and prospects as they visited the I-16 holdings.

“The intent is to keep them from renting office space in Pooler or Savannah,” Henry said of the agreement with Medient Studios.

Under the sub-lease with the IDA, the studio will pay for utilities and taxes, and the IDA will have a space in the building, with a table, for documents and maps.

“We’ll have a table and a space for documents and aerials,” Henry said.

The IDA also will have to replace project manager Ryan Moore, who accepted the position as director of economic development for the Athens-Clarke County unified government.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here,” Moore told board members.

IDA Chairman Dennis Webb congratulated Moore on his new job and praised his work over the last six-and-a-half years.

“You have been an asset to this board,” Webb said.