By Kathy Jefcoats
FOREST PARK — At least three movie production companies are interested in filming at Fort Gillem, officials said Thursday night during the Implementation Local Redevelopment Authority board meeting.
Executive Director Fred Bryant made the announcement but asked that specific information not be released.
"Clayton County Economic Development and Film folks have informed me that if the word gets out, we will not have the opportunity to attract the film industry to the county in the future," said Bryant Friday.
Bryant told the committee that three film companies have looked at shooting inside the older buildings left behind by the U.S. Army. The first is in the process of leasing the property for three months.
"This will bring $38,000-$40,000 to the city," he said. "These are big deals."
All three movies are sequels. There was no time frame given on shooting or other details.
However, Bryant said once leases are signed for the use of the property, the city retains control of the land.
"We'll have 100 percent control of the land until we close the deal on the property," he said. "We won't have to get approval from the Army on that particular piece of property."
The film companies are also responsible for getting whatever utilities are needed for the shoot and paying for those utilities. Any infrastructure built for the shoot stays in place as something the city can benefit from later, he said.
Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt wanted to know about provisions being made for homeless people. Apparently, the Army requires the city to provide shelter for the homeless, housing expected to be found on the base, said Oswalt.
However, Bryant said an alternate plan was crafted.
"We've been approved by HUD for an alternate site for women with children ages 12-17 on property adjacent to Calvary Refuge Center," he said.
Forest Park Mayor Pro Tem Linda Lord said the alternate site will suffice.
"They appreciate everything that's being done for them," she said. "They think Forest Park is the best place ever."
Bryant also told the committee that financing is proceeding but he's offered to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with officials to help move the project along.
"I've offered to go in August to meet with attorneys to finalize the transfer of property," he said. "I don't think it will be as quick as the first of August, though."
Forest Park city officials finalized a plan in January 2012 to buy the base for $30 million, a deal that was five years in the making, said Bryant. Officials are working on developing the 1,170 acres into a commercial and industrial park and have been tight-lipped about what businesses will establish there.
The U.S. Army retains a 250-acre enclave on Fort Gillem that includes its Criminal Investigations Division Crime Lab, a state of the art facility.
Fort Gillem was annexed into Forest Park in 1973, and was once a thriving satellite base to Fort McPherson in East Point. However, it was recommended for closure in May 2005. Bryant said officials began working on the transfer of property to Forest Park in June 2006.