Knickpoint Tops Out Chicago’s 1st Purpose-Built Film Studio

The facility is part of a mixed-use redevelopment of the former Marshall Field & Co. warehouse.

The Fields. Image courtesy of Knickpoint Ventures

The Fields. Image courtesy of Knickpoint Ventures

Knickpoint Ventures has topped out The Fields Studio, the first purpose-built film studio in Chicago. Encompassing a total of 482,000 square feet, the studio is part of the 1.5 million-square-foot redevelopment of the former Marshall Field & Co. warehouse. The project is expected to come online in the first quarter of 2024.

The Fields is set to include nine sounds stages totaling 132,000 square feet, as well as more than 350,000 square feet of creative office, mill and support space. Eight sound stages are NC-30 rated and range between 12,000 and 18,000 square feet, while the ninth is a 5,000-square-foot space dedicated to small scale productions. The 150,000-square-foot mill and support area will include dedicated space for production vehicles and departments, dressing rooms and a site for future back lot construction.

The studio is taking shape at 4000 W. Diversey Ave., 8 miles from downtown Chicago. The property will benefit from access to public transportation options, as well as to dining and retail venues.

In March, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a 10-year extension of the production tax credit for the film industry. The program was first approved in 2008 to support the local economy and the growth of the film business in the state.

From warehouse to mixed-use redevelopment

The Fields Studio is the latest iteration of a property that went through several stages of transformation throughout almost an entire century. Originally built in 1928 as an Olson Rug factory, the 22-acre site included six buildings that changed hands in 1965 when the property turned into a Marshall Field’s warehouse. After being under Macy’s ownership from 2006 until 2008 and then vacant for a few years, Merit Partners acquired the warehouse in 2014 for $8 million and embarked on a $60 million redevelopment project.

In 2018, New York-based Knickpoint Ventures purchased the asset from Merit Partners. The transaction was a portfolio sale in which Knickpoint acquired a 78.3 percent ownership stake of The Fields facility for almost $35 million and 100 percent ownership stake in 182,000 square feet of industrial space at 4029 W. George St., according to CommercialEdge data. Lock Up Self Storage acquired the rest of the 21.7 percent ownership in The Fields back in 2016 for $1.6 million. The same data provider shows that the property is currently subject to a bridge loan of $150 million provided by Prime Finance Partners and has a 2024 maturity date.

Knickpoint is currently planning on bringing additional retail users on the site, apart from Cermak Fresh Market—which became part of the mixed-use redevelopment project back in 2016. The roster also includes SIX4 Creative and The Federal Savings Bank, which signed a long-term lease for 50,000 square feet in 2020.

The intersection of film and commercial development

Since the beginning of 2023, several development projects that catered to the film and entertainment industry have been either brought to completion or started the planning process. in February, Worldwide Stages LLC opened a 320,000-square-foot complex in Nashville, Tenn., comprising 38 acres of production space.

The same month, Innovo Property Group topped out a 900,000-square-foot mixed-use development in Long Island City, N.Y. that will include Borden Studios, a 194,000-square-foot film and television production facility.

In Los Angeles, Fox Corp. announced that its Studio Lot in Century City will undergo an expansion totaling 1.6 million square feet. The project will reportedly garner a $1.5 billion investment.

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