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BLOG: Morning View Film Studio Update

Looking at the past, and explaining what's to come for the Morning View film studio project.

First, allow me to say how thankful I am that most of Dixon has been so open and patient about the news flow from Morning View. 

Most understand that many people and businesses enjoy (expect) some level of privacy while a growing few demand to know everything about everyone.  I know there is no way to make the few understand why many of us do not wish to have private matters posted for every person with internet connection to see until the end of time.  Within that mindset I shall provide as much information and background as possible.

The Past

Yes, Morning View did attempt to locate in various other locations.  Some of those locations people know about and others remain private.  When I showed Morning View Dixon and provided the background – Morning View also had other locations under consideration.  Sometimes things did not work out for them, other times it was the other party.  Sometime, neither was to blame.  No, I will not say why the other locations were not successful.  Perhaps it was like looking for your soul mate; once you find them you stop looking and don’t look back.  

Morning View was serious, they held a public meeting to get the feel of the community and let the world know they were serious about Dixon.  Believe me, others were still interested in having Morning View consider their city.  When the City of Dixon wanted information – Morning View provided it.  However, Morning View has never planned and then declined to make a presentation before the City of Dixon.  When updates were needed, either Morning View emailed them to the City Manager or I spoke before the city council.

What about the purchase of land? 

Morning View considers the purchase of the land a private matter and will not provide the names, locations and dates of discussions on the process to date.  And if landowners do not wish to go public – why should I?

What I can tell you is the process for the purchase of the land.  First will be the large parcels under the foot print of the studio within city limits that do not have homes and businesses on them.  After that, other land around the studio within the city limits and then the county.  However, before we can even talk about purchasing the land we have to address the “show me the money” question.

From the point of view of the City of Dixon, funding the building of a project has no bearing on the land use and permitting requirements.  From the point of view of the general public, no requirement exists.  The people of Dixon have never asked for a family to submit a  "wherewithal” or financial statement to build a home and my neighbors did not require one when I moved to Dixon.  Many of the recent businesses that moved into or expanded in Dixon, were not asked to provide a financial statement.  Genetech did not.  Altec did not.  From memory – no one asked them to and most were happy to have the added jobs in Dixon.  There is no requirement for the financials or the backers.  Morning View considers this private. That should address the land purchase, financial and backers of this project.

Measure N's Impact & More

Things were moving fast until Measure N came about and then came some serious rethinking.  While I do not wish to recount Measure N, I feel you must know how this impacted the project.

Morning View was going to build and operate the studio.  However, to be absolutely sure the backers of the project would be able to remain private (in any future attempt of a like Measure) another layer had to be added.  Morning View had to select a development company to build the project.  This not only added a time delay but a huge additional cost.  Time was lost waiting for the election, selecting the development company and then forming the legal entities for the construction and operation of the studio.  Application to the city and opening of escrow to purchase land was subject to this delay.

The City of Dixon also has work to perform as part of the development process for the studio.  The housing being displaced by the studio has to be accounted for elsewhere in Dixon so the housing element is in compliance.  Part of Dixon’s general plan states development will pay its own way.  Therefore, for the housing element work, Dixon must collect from the developer.  One of the easy ways to do this is via a reimbursement agreement.  I have been working on the housing element options to get the project back on schedule. David Dowswell recommended an approach and Morning View asked for approval of the reimbursement agreement so the City of Dixon could move forward.

Contrary to what is being written or discussed, this agreement is not a litmus test or a type of promise.   Morning View will deposit $100,000 to be applied to Dixon’s cost to complete the work needed so down the road Morning View can seek approval for their project and pull permits.  As the reimbursement account is drawn down, additional funds will be added.

So why no public meeting or more information? 

Consider the time required to complete the work to date.  Consider the scale of this project… $2.8 billion… 300 acres… millions of square feet… with a goal of two years from start to finish.  It is a lot of late nights with contracts, scope of work, budgets, conceptual plans and working with various partners, associates, bankers and team members.

I get updates every few days to assist in keeping things on track with the approval process and update the project schedule showing time lines, responsible parties and critical path and then advise Morning View if we are slipping.  And for reasons stated above we are slipping.

However, here is what you should see in the near future. Morning View will have a website to provide information, gather comments; public meetings soon.  Look for an announcement of the developer, construction team and closing on properties. There will be less speculative info posted by bloggers and more facts directly from the source – Morning View.  Speculation and name dropping are counterproductive.

Some question how and why Morning View is going about this $2.8 billion project and who is behind it.   Morning View’s industry is different.  It differs like that of brick and mortar to internet retail; to your favorite mom and pop shop to the big box store; or an old friend that will help without question.  From what I have learned, the industry is relationship based, your word is your bond and what is private... remains private.

Dixon is set to have a wonderful member of the community.  They are not asking you to change or totally understand the how and why they do business they way they do.  They just ask you to consider their wishes and consider accepting them.  It’s a free country, with free speech and free internet.  Please consider the impacts of public speculation and name dropping on the folks that value their privacy.

Feel free to contact me if you would like to be added to our email update list.

Mike Smith

mikes@ibewlu180.org

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mike Smith March 20, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Yes, the end of the land purchase has arrvied.
Kip Larsen March 21, 2013 at 07:06 PM
I have worked in the Film Production industry for over 30 years on everything from television commercials to major motion pictures. I have one big question, "WHY would any film production company come to Dixon, CA to film on stages?" There is NO SUPPORT structure there for the myriad of additional services that are necessary to support a thriving Production Studio. Take a look at what happened to the production studios built in Pontiac, Michigan. Even with state supported tax incentives (California's film tax incentives are paltry to what was available in Michigan) the Studio provided few jobs and went broke. I would not expect any better outcome for any production studios built in Dixon.
Jim Ernest March 22, 2013 at 01:51 AM
It is easy to forget what Dixon has to offer. Dixon and Vacaville are right between two big metropolitan areas, on the biggest freeway in the U.S. Even with all the political turmoil and tax problems, our state is still a highly desirable destination. Dixon WILL grow in almost any scenario. These people are bringing their own money with them, and obviously believe in what they are doing. Their vision is a bright one. Morning View has the right to attempt this business venture, here or somewhere else; I hope they succeed here.
Gary Erwin March 22, 2013 at 02:32 AM
Kip, Why did Lucas settle in Marin? Why did Coppola settle in San Francisco? They left L.A. to set up their own Shangri la away from the overbearing structure of the “Big Six” where they could work unobstructed on their projects. Benefits of Dixon: Affordable available land and housing. Trainable, egger labor pool. Highway 80 at its doorstep with 505 nearby Nut Tree Airport that accepts corporate jets Sacramento International Airport 25 minutes away. National Fiber Optic backbone runs through Dixon Small government able and agile. The Studio will have its own scene shop, wardrobe, props dept. Studio will own its production gear and it will be located in house. The difference here is that the Directors and Producers are signing onto the project it is not coin operated as in the examples your provided. Yes someone can come in and rent the facilities MV also has their pool of signed creative’s with their projects.
union member March 28, 2013 at 04:12 AM
So if you knew this,why didnt you tell us at the union meeting?

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