As anyone traveling the top end of the Interstate 285 Perimeter lately may have noticed, Doraville’s version of a Los Angeles-style studio city is clearly rounding into shape.

According to Assembly Atlanta project leaders, the remake of Doraville’s demolished former General Motors plant is entering a “final big push” before content creation begins at 22 soundstages now finishing construction as part of phase one.

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.

“Assembly Atlanta is closer than it’s ever been, we are really hitting that home stretch,” Justin Campbell, Assembly’s vice president of studio operations, said in a recent construction update.  

NYC-style fire escapes at Assembly. Assembly Atlanta; @assemblyatlanta

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. It’s situated next to I-285 and MARTA’s Gold Line, about 11 miles north of Midtown.

Another section that’s fully under construction, as update footage shows, will be a public-accessible greenspace called Assembly Commons. That’s expected to include a 2-acre central lawn and large retaining pond with water jets at the bottom that create fountain effects.

Following a lengthy demolition process, construction began at Assembly Atlanta in early 2022, and a ceremony was held in February to mark the end of phase one’s vertical construction.

Assembly Atlanta; @assemblyatlanta

Atlanta-based Gray Television, the project developer and one of the nation’s largest owners of broadcast TV stations, says the studios will be among Georgia’s largest, eventually claiming 135 acres.

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 soundstage construction.

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

Aspects of the project that won’t move forward as planned—at least for now—include housing, hotel rooms, eateries, and shops.  

Gray Television’s CEO and board chair Hilton Howell told the Atlanta Business Chronicle in February that “macroeconomic concern about real estate,” including supply issues, have changed timelines for developing Assembly’s more traditional mixed-use facets.

Plans had called 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 in late 2022. Also in the mix: a nondenominational wedding chapel, 5,000-seat civic arena, and a conference center.

Head up to the gallery for a quick tour of where Assembly’s initial phase stands, according to construction updates published this month, and how it’s all expected to look and function soon.


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