After years of setbacks and rumors to boot, the former South Weymouth Naval Air Base that once soiled live bombs, rockets, and torpedoes is seeing light again. It was just a year ago, when the news surfaced about the airbase being revamped into a new community. The proposed $1.5 billion project aka “SouthField”, one of the largest building projects in the state is finally getting ready for takeoff as early as next week — and possibly the start of a $147 million motion-picture complex.
News came in after a $45 million state and federal stimulus was granted to one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, LNR Property Corp. “This is a piece of property unlike any other in New England, and we’re finally seeing the investment from others to solidify that,’’ Kevin Chase, a managing director for LNR tells the Boston Globe. No word on when the movie studio will start, however, plans were to include space for film production, television shows, digital production, commercials as well as retail outlets.
“People will walk through the gates and get a feel for what it’s like in the motion picture business,” said producer James Hirsch, who along with Robert Papazian will form the studio project’s production team. Southfield Studios is expected to create 1,200 to 1,600 temporary construction jobs and an additional 1,500 movie-industry jobs.
The first phase of construction is a 3.5 mile runway leading into Southfield where not only thousands of homes will be built, retail shops, a private golf course, and a film studio. The studio is a partnership between veteran Hollywood producers of the International Studio Group and commercial real estate developer, LNR. Chase also told the Boston Globe that the developers of the film studio want to begin construction by the end of the year.
As the first phase of the parkway is underway, the next challenges will be connecting the roads that surround the former base that has been vacant since 1997. And if you don’t know the area, let’s just say, funding won’t be the only problem that concurs during the next phases of Southfield.
They are planning to connect Shea Drive in Weymouth to Reservoir Drive in Rockland, and connect Route 18 in Weymouth to Route 228 in Rockland — potential headaches for commuters. And like all big projects, once one challenge is checked off, the next isn’t far behind. LNR and South Shore Tri-Town Development Corp, who overseas the base, still must come to agreement with the Navy to purchase much of the land where the future community will be built.
Once a base for blimps to patrol the Atlantic during World War II, the former air base will slowly be transformed into community of new homes, retail stores, and possible even a little Hollywood. We may not hear “Lights, camera, action!” anytime soon, but we do hope for a better take off than Plymouth Rock Studios.
Tell us what you think of the proposed community of Southfield!