Almost a year to the date since the first concrete was poured, another expansive metro Atlanta film studio complex plans to commemorate the end of vertical construction—for phase one, at least—during a ceremony this afternoon.

Assembly Atlanta, billed as an “all-star destination” with an array of cutting-edge soundstages for Georgia’s booming TV and movie industry, is celebrating the project’s “topping out” as the final structural beam is raised in place.

Officials are calling it a “critical benchmark” for the studio complex, which expects to open this summer about 11 miles north of Midtown.  

Atlanta-based Gray Television, the project developer and one of the nation’s largest owners of broadcast TV stations, is creating something akin to an ITP version of a Hollywood backlot on Doraville’s old GM plant site. Gray officials say the studios will be among Georgia’s largest, eventually claiming 135 acres neighbored by I-285, MARTA’s Gold Line, and urbanizing Peachtree Road.

A social media post this month celebrating Assembly Atlanta's one-year mark since construction began, following a lengthy demo process. Assembly Atlanta; @assemblyatlanta

GM’s factory shuttered in 2008, ending a 60-year run and leaving the site in limbo for years. Gray bought the property from Atlanta developer Integral Group in 2021, acquired the site’s existing Third Rail Studios a few months later, and quickly launched construction on what’s expected to be roughly 20 Assembly Atlanta soundstages when the project wraps.

Gray has worked out a deal with film and television producer NBCUniversal to lease spaces across the sprawling campus, alongside Gray’s own Swirl Films.

The first Smith Dalia Architects-designed phase alone is expected to cost $305 million and include more than 1 million square feet of film-production space (from warehouses to dining halls and bungalows for private production) across 53 acres. Backlots taking shape with distinctive facades have been designed to mimic brownstones in New York City, a grittier section with exposed fire escapes called “Tribeca,” a fancier district that will stand in for streets in European capital cities, and another area meant to be the French Quarter in New Orleans.

In other words, a north ITP answer to Tyler Perry Studios, which counts everything from a faux White House to a prison yard. 

A recent aerial showing how studio facades are shaping up in Doraville. Assembly Atlanta; @assemblyatlanta

As seen in October, How Third Rail Studios, which opened in 2015, relates to the construction site. The skylines of Buckhead (right) and downtown/Midtown poke up from the horizon. Urbanize Atlanta

Other sections in Assembly Atlanta’s phase one will feature a 4-acre public park, a 2-acre central lawn that doubles as stormwater drainage, two (real) Doraville police precincts, and some two miles of streetscapes, project leaders have said. 

Once the studios are established, Gray plans to develop more traditional mixed-use facets in Doraville.

Those plans call for 120 condos and townhomes, 800 apartments, 250,000 square feet of retail, two hotels with 350 rooms combined, and about 1 million square feet of offices, company officials said last year. Also in the mix: a nondenominational wedding chapel, 5,000-seat civic arena, and a conference center. (Find more progress photos in the gallery above). 

The Georgia Film Office announced in August the Peach State had logged another record-setting fiscal year for film and TV, notching $4.4 billion in production spending. That included 32 feature films, 36 independent films, 269 television and episodic productions, 42 commercials, and 33 music videos in the year ending June 30, per the state agency.


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Doraville news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)