Studio considers moving to Florida
by Kate Harrington
NIEDERWALD-Lights, camera, action, as they say in the film industry. Actually, hold on the action part. Before a potential film studio makes its debut in Hays County, commissioners are waiting until their March 14 meeting to see if developer David Cuddy provides the court with more details on his project.
Cuddy says he plans to build a state-of-the-art film studio in Niederwald complete with a sound stage and asked commissioners for a tax abatement during a Feb. 7 Commissioner’s Court meeting. But commissioners postponed action saying they’re unsure whether the plan meets county requirements for a tax abatement.
“He’s got 243 acres, but which tract does he want the abatement for?” said Brad Bailey, assistant to County Judge Jim Powers. “He’s not looking to do the full thing, and we don’t want to issue an abatement for the whole thing and then find out he’s going and building houses.”
Cuddy originally bought the land with the intention of turning it into a subdivision, said Bonnie Orr, an Austin-based screenwriter. But when people within the Austin film community asked Cuddy to reconsider building the whole tract out with houses and put in a film studio, he agreed, Orr said.
“He likes it because it’s between Austin and San Antonio,” Orr said.
Bailey said Cuddy, who still plans to put houses on the tract, needs to clarify exactly how many buildings will be residences and how many buildings will be linked to the film studio.
“Most importantly, when is the soundstage going to be built?” Bailey said.
But Cuddy said he’s provided commissioners with all the information they’ve asked for. In November Cuddy said commissioners told him they had the votes necessary to get the abatement passed in a few weeks. After two months, though, he’s getting tired of waiting.
“I honestly don’t know where we sit,” Cuddy said over the phone, as he drove to Florida. He said local government officials in Jacksonville are interested in his film studio, and he may move the project there if Hays County Commissioners don’t give him the abatement.
“Everybody I’ve talked to is excited about the project, but I’m baffled at the lack of support I’ve gotten from the (Hays County) local government.”
Pct. 2 Commissioner Susie Carter couldn’t be reached for comment.
A tax abatement would save Cuddy about $9,000 annually for the next five to seven years in real estate tax. Tax abatements usually come from local governments trying to attract businesses that could benefit the community.
Carol Pirie, deputy director of the Texas Film Commission, said in an email that an average of 53 movies and television programs plus hundreds of television commercials brings 5,700 direct jobs and 11,400 indirect jobs to Texans each year. Those jobs in turn bring indirect economic advantages, Pirie said.
“Last year, filmmakers working in Texas used 46,000 room nights. Hotel rooms used for less than 30 days bring occupancy tax revenue to the State and host city. Additionally, visiting crew members spend an amount equal to 20% of their wages on meals, entertainment and shopping.”
- No abatement yet for film studio 03/10/2006
- Niederwald movie man calls for city and county collaboration 06/4/2008
- Buda can boast one more film 03/9/2011