Creative Industry Seeks Creative Financing and Incentives
About the Client
York Studios, Inc. owns and operates NYS qualified motion picture and television production facilities in New York City. The company’s multi-phase expansion in the Bronx represents the first major film production studio project in the borough.
- $55M (Phase I)
- $100M (Phases I – II)
- 175,000 SF Film/TV (Phase I)
- 350,000 SF (Phases I – Il)
- $26.5M construction-to-permanent loan
- $5.0M subsidized ESD MERF Loan
- $1.2M NYS cash grant
- $35M NYC incentives
Funding Challenges (Overcoming Early Skeptics)
The complex project required detailed business planning, market analysis, and, ultimately, multiple financing and incentive strategies for a successful completion.
A number of challenges initially complicated financing, including construction risk, collateral issues, and the speculative nature of the project and its location. Skeptics of the initiative cited the fact that the project site, which exhibited several environmental issues, had been vacant for 20+ years. In addition, NYS continuing the tax credit program for film production was not guaranteed.
Planning for Successful Project Execution
ThinkForward developed a comprehensive business plan and cash flow modeling, commissioned market and demographic studies, and outlined numerous financing strategies. We analyzed the viability of several financing options, from conventional construction, EB-5, and SBA loans to Empire State subsidized loans and bank loan options. Significantly, we reinvestigated each option as our client progressed through the development plan.
For long-term project viability, cash had to be preserved to fund Phase II pre-development and infrastructure costs.
After many months of planning, exploration, and negotiation, ThinkForward procured a $26.5M construction-to-permanent loan with a local bank on very favorable terms for York studios, which ensured that the project would be on track for completion.
Navigating NYC/NY Agencies
The financing structure included significant tax benefits for 25 years. Our close relationship with the NYC Industrial Development Agency, as well as our familiarity with its programs and complex application and approval processes, were assets to York. Our efforts resulted in an incentive package of $35M over 25 years.
We successfully guided York Studios through the transaction, ensuring an efficient and smooth closing process. In addition, to make the project a reality, we applied and procured a capital grant of $1.25M and $5.0M in subsidized loans from ESD’s MERF program.
Ongoing Financial Partner
ThinkForward served as financial advisor and economic development consultant. We managed the entire financing process, including procuring an ideal lender, managing governmental agencies, and securing all necessary financing and agency approvals. We prepared financial analyses to determine the optimal structure, as well as coordinated with legal counsels, ultimately, successfully closing the financing
“ThinkForward remained at our side for years…they saw this project through, playing a significant role in making it a reality.”
—John Kalafatis, CFO, York Studios