Update on Huge Assembly Studios in Atlanta on Former GM Plant Site

Hilton Howell, CEO of Gray Television, drops by the Assembly Studios construction site almost daily to see the progress. This was shot August 11, 2022. RODNEY HO/[email protected]

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Hilton Howell, CEO of Gray Television, drops by the Assembly Studios construction site almost daily to see the progress. This was shot August 11, 2022. RODNEY HO/[email protected]

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General Motors used the location for over 60 years to build Pontiacs, Buicks, Chevys and Oldsmobiles until it closed in 2008.

After many tweaks and start-ups and hiccups, Gray Television last year finally grabbed a large chunk of ownership for $80 million. Along with the mondo film and TV studio, the company envisions a boutique hotel and all the usual mixed-use elements you’d expect in the 2020s, including townhouses, apartments, office buildings and restaurants. . The entire 135-acre project is called Assembly Atlanta.

It took Gray Television a year to break up 83 acres of concrete two feet deep to prepare the site. The concrete, broken into manageable bites, was reconstituted as backfill for the foundations of the property. Gray officially began construction in May.

Aware of the supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, Gray purchased all the steel he needed a year ago. It was a good time because it was before inflation took off. This saved them about $25 million, according to Howell. “Better to be lucky than smart,” he said.

Gray’s concrete subcontractor built a temporary on-site concrete plant used to ensure a steady flow of accessible concrete. “No scheduling issues, no rain delays,” Howell said. “It spins all the time.”

On August 11, 2022, Cement Mixers are hard at work on future Doraville-based Assembly Studios, which will have over 20 sound stages when completed in 2023. RODNEY HO/[email protected]

Credit: RODNEY HO/[email protected]

On August 11, 2022, Cement Mixers are hard at work on future Doraville-based Assembly Studios, which will have over 20 sound stages when completed in 2023. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/[email protected]

On August 11, 2022, Cement Mixers are hard at work on future Doraville-based Assembly Studios, which will have over 20 sound stages when completed in 2023. RODNEY HO/[email protected]

Credit: RODNEY HO/[email protected]

Credit: RODNEY HO/[email protected]

Along with the indoor scenes, there will be four outdoor streetscapes in the background. Based on requests from the film office, they construct a view of the French Quarter of New Orleans, a block of New York brownstone, and a set of buildings that could pass for some European city. The fourth block will rotate as needed.

A three-foot-deep retention pond is already dug in front of a glass building that could be used for movie sets that need a sleek, futuristic setting. The pond could also be used for green screen ocean or lake backdrops. And Gray plans to use the building’s penthouse to screen parties and other events.

A rendering of what the lake and the futuristic glass building once was completed at Assembly Studios. GRAY TELEVISION

Credit: GRAY TELEVISION

A rendering of what the lake and the futuristic glass building once was completed at Assembly Studios.  GRAY TELEVISION

Credit: GRAY TELEVISION

A rendering of what the lake and the futuristic glass building once was completed at Assembly Studios. GRAY TELEVISION

Credit: GRAY TELEVISION

Credit: GRAY TELEVISION

None of this is cheap. The media company inherited up to $1.5 billion in bonds that the Doraville Economic Development Authority agreed to issue to help fund the work. On top of that, Gray is spending $130-140 million on construction this year, with $80-90 million in additional capital spending planned for 2023.

Assembly Studios includes over 20 sound stages. Here is one being built from scratch on August 11, 2022. RODNEY HO/[email protected]

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Assembly Studios includes over 20 sound stages.  Here is one being built from scratch on August 11, 2022. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

1 credit: RODNEY HO/rho

Assembly Studios includes over 20 sound stages. Here is one being built from scratch on August 11, 2022. RODNEY HO/[email protected]

1 credit: RODNEY HO/rho

1 credit: RODNEY HO/rho

The construction of the assembly studios takes place in the shadow of a Super H-mart and a BrandsMart in Doraville. RODNEY HO/[email protected]

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The construction of the assembly studios takes place in the shadow of a Super H-mart and a BrandsMart in Doraville.  RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

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The construction of the assembly studios takes place in the shadow of a Super H-mart and a BrandsMart in Doraville. RODNEY HO/[email protected]

1 credit

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Gray Television last year bought neighboring Third Rail Studios, which opened in 2016, for $27.5 million and will complement Assembly Studios, which is currently in construction mode. RODNEY HO/[email protected]

Credit: RODNEY HO/[email protected]

Gray Television last year bought neighboring Third Rail Studios, which opened in 2016, for $27.5 million and will complement Assembly Studios, which is currently in construction mode.  RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/[email protected]

Gray Television last year bought neighboring Third Rail Studios, which opened in 2016, for $27.5 million and will complement Assembly Studios, which is currently in construction mode. RODNEY HO/[email protected]

Credit: RODNEY HO/[email protected]

Credit: RODNEY HO/[email protected]

Rendering of an entry to Assembly Studios. GRAY TELEVISION

Credit: GRAY TELEVISION

Rendering of an entry to Assembly Studios.  GRAY TELEVISION

Credit: GRAY TELEVISION

Rendering of an entry to Assembly Studios. GRAY TELEVISION

Credit: GRAY TELEVISION

Credit: GRAY TELEVISION

A rendering of what part of the Assembly Studios will look like when completed on the land that was once a General Motors automobile assembly plant. GRAY TELEVISION

Credit: GRAY TELEVISION

A rendering of what part of the Assembly Studios will look like when completed on the land that was once a General Motors automobile assembly plant.  GRAY TELEVISION

Credit: GRAY TELEVISION

A rendering of what part of the Assembly Studios will look like when completed on the land that was once a General Motors automobile assembly plant. GRAY TELEVISION

Credit: GRAY TELEVISION

Credit: GRAY TELEVISION

Amanda J. Marsh