Hollywood East? Phillywood? How About Chester?

By
Real Estate Agent

by Rich Schiffer, Weichert, Realtors 

In a recent article, I discussed the situation in the Commercial market in the City of Chester, Delaware County, PA which is halfway between Philadelphia, PA and Wilmington, DE.

Commercial Revitalization: "If you build it, they will come."

Well it seems someone got the message...

There is some interest being expressed by Pacifica Ventures to construct a Hollywood-style movie studio in the Philadelphia region, and this is one of the areas under consideration.

I recently wrote a letter to the Chairman of Pacifica Ventures, and said the following:

"I am not a public official here to outline a "package" to help attract Pacifica to the area. I am simply a member of the community, who sees first-hand that there are several reasons that would make this a potential top choice for such an enterprise:

  • Availability of suitable building sites within the city.
    There are numerous locations which could be possible.
    Chester has many underused or abandoned commercial and industrial sites, many including waterfront access on the Delaware River, that could serve as likely locations.
     
  • Available work-force.
    Chester has one of the highest unemployment rates in the Philadelphia suburbs, and as such could represent a strong pool of available workforce, both in the construction and on-going operations of the facility, which could serve to limit the costs of construction. In addition, as you are already aware, there are a large number of colleges and universities in the Philadelphia suburbs, from which the studio could attract any number of employees.
  • Available Housing.
    The region boasts a wide range of housing options for relocating employees. From affordable urban housing in the city itself, to one of the top 10 places to live in the nation, according to Money Magazine. (Nether Providence, a borough right outside the city limits, was listed as #9 in Money's Top 100 places to live) This could be rather attractive to crew members and facility management that chose to live in the area.
  • Community Impact.
     This is perhaps the most important aspect of why I feel choosing Chester would be a wise decision. The community has long had the motto, "What Chester Makes, Makes Chester." With the drawback of industrial production of the last several decades, the community has felt a harsh impact. While the area has a long and proud history, many residents are now faced with an uncertain future. It is my strong belief that a Studio would be readily embraced as a part of the community, and residents would quickly rally behind the studio, in an effort to be part of the rebirth of their city.
  • Geographic Location.
    With close access to Philadelphia Airport (which is actually mostly within Delaware County), Interstate Highways, Railways, and the Port on the Delaware River, the construction and operations of a studio within Chester could be supported by Air, Land, and Sea. The access to the port could also allow for the potential construction of water/tank sets.

    As a resident of the area myself, I can also attest to the fact that there is an active amateur film community in the region. I have worked on the production of two independently produced films, myself, including having co-written the screenplay for the short film, The Cracked Man (
    http://www.crackedman.com/) which will be featured at the upcoming Wildwood Film Festival. For me it is a hobby only, but I can assure you that there is a lot of creative and technical talent in the area that would love the opportunity to support a studio's operations in this area."

I also sent a similar letter to the Director of the Greater Philadelphia Area Film Office, and got an interesting, somewhat cryptic reply:

  • "I appreciate very much your wonderful inquiry on behalf of your community. I believe that the Pacific Ventures group will shortly announce their location and you won't be disappointed." (emphasis added)

That sounds to me like the commercial redevelopment efforts here are about to get a major "shot in the arm", so to speak.

Comments (6)

Karen Rice
Keller Williams Real Estate - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

Wow, Rich - that's a very inspirational and encouraging story!!!  Please keep us posted.

Now, if I could figure out where to find a buyer for a 2 million dollar golf course....LOL 

Aug 30, 2007 04:23 PM
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel
Great story.If we have Hollywood East, imagine the impact on Housing in our area. Good luck.
Aug 31, 2007 01:12 AM
Michael Delp
Mortgage Pro - Telford, PA
I hope more effort does go into Chester. I think the potential is definitely there. I haven't been there since I worked in the Chester Farmers Market as a teenager but I always thought that it had great potential because of location alone.
Aug 31, 2007 02:04 PM
Rich Schiffer
Swarthmore, PA
Referral Agent, e-PRO
Karen, Gita and Michael -- thanks for your support.  Lend your support even more loudly, and write a letter of your own to the Chairman of Pacifica Ventures.
Sep 07, 2007 11:59 AM
Rich Schiffer
Swarthmore, PA
Referral Agent, e-PRO

From a press release:  "A location in Delaware County, just a few miles south of the Philadelphia Airport, was announced in late 2007. Ground-breaking for the still unnamed studio is anticipated for spring 2008."

My sources indicate that the selected site is in Chester Township, but construction is on hold until the Chester-Upland School Board approves the deal.  I will keep you informed as I learn more.

Jul 30, 2008 05:10 AM
Rich Schiffer
Swarthmore, PA
Referral Agent, e-PRO

The dealis getting closer to completion, and at least one majoy Hollywood director is waiting in the wings to make movies here.  See the Philadelphia Inquirer article.

Jul 30, 2008 05:20 AM