Film studio proposed for West Orange

Photo Courtesy of Joseph Fagan
The original film studio on the Edison complex in West Orange, pictured here, would get some company under a proposal to build a film studio nearby.

WEST ORANGE — Township officials announced a potential Redevelopment Agreement with Matrix Development Group, which would develop a film studio on approximately 12.2 acres adjacent to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in downtown West Orange.

“We are excited for this project that will help move West Orange forward economically speaking for generations to come,” said West Orange Mayor Susan McCartney. “A film studio in downtown West Orange is the most appropriate historic location in the world and will bring prosperity to the town just as Thomas Edison did in the late 1880s. This will provide our town and its stakeholders financial stability that will positively impact our business owners, residents, and local economy.”

Councilman Bill Rutherford, the township council liaison to the redevelopment project added, “It will take a novel project like this, with a major investment in our Main Street corridor, to help us create the vibrant downtown that West Orange residents have been desiring for years.”

The redevelopment rights for Matrix will pay the township $200,000 that represents the amount of property taxes that would have been collected on the property in 2023.

The period known as the Due Diligence Period can be extended for an additional 8 months with a possible additional payment of $200,000 to the township, according to the township.

During this period, Matrix will specifically formulate project details, finalize a purchase and sale agreement for the township properties, and further evaluate the current environmental conditions.

Our Green West Orange issued a statement questioning why the township was rushing into the plan, suggesting that the township is not properly following development law, which requires that prior to choosing a redeveloper for a parcel of land, the council must adopt a redevelopment plan. It further states that Matrix has only presented an outline, not a full plan, and that the deal will give tax abatements to the developer.

Our Green West Orange is a local non profit that describes itself as an organization that advocates for environmental policies and practices that promote positive sustainability and growth among businesses, residents, and the municipality.

The objective of the Redevelopment Project, according to the township, is to diversify mixed-use development and the economic base of West Orange, by promoting film production activities known as “Studio Use” adjacent to the location of the world’s first film production studio.

The Studio Use is estimated to be between 150,000 and 350,000 square feet. It will include between three and six production stages ranging from 20,000 to 30,000 square feet each. The facility will also include office and support space as well as parking to accommodate between 200-400 cars and 30-60 trucks. Once fully operational, it is anticipated 300-600 new fulltime jobs will be created, according to the township.