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Thread: Cinespace Studios in Etobicoke (Kipling s of Norseman)

  1. Default Cinespace Studios in Etobicoke (Kipling s of Norseman)

    Don't see a thread for this. I am very pleased to see this building repurposed, I hope some of the handsome industrial features of the building are preserved.



    Etobicoke plant to become film studio
    GUY DIXON - Globe and Mail

    Published on Friday, Dec. 18, 2009 12:00AM EST

    Last updated on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009 3:07AM EST


    A shuttered glass factory in Toronto could be home to Hollywood productions by early next year, if all goes according to plan for its new owners.

    Cinespace Film Studios, which provides studio and office space for films shooting in Toronto, has bought the old Consumers Glass factory in the west end. The plant was more recently owned by glass bottle and container maker Owens-Illinois and closed last year, eliminating 400 jobs.

    Cinespace president Steve Mirkopoulos described the acquisition of the abandoned, 12-hectare property as a "win-win scenario" for both the industry and Etobicoke, noting the spillover benefits that Cinespace's anchor studio on Booth Avenue have had in revitalizing the Leslieville neighbourhood.

    When he first toured the abandoned plant, he noticed the hundreds of empty employee lockers.

    "We felt sad when we visited the area where the lockers [were] of all the people who used to work there," he said. "But I can tell you: Two, three, four years down the road, we may have [as many] people working there in a different industry."

    Mr. Mirkopoulos believes there is enough film work in Toronto for another large studio space, despite the recent and dramatic decrease in production caused by the economic slump.

    With the arrival of the competing Filmport studios on Toronto's Port Lands and competition from other Canadian cities, the question is whether film and television production across the city has increased enough to support the new studio space. Cinespace's Booth Avenue facilities, however, are busy, with the horror films Resident Evil: Afterlife and Saw 7 currently filming there, along with the TV series Flashpoint, Overruled and Warehouse 13.

    Mr. Mirkopoulos is optimistic.

    "Some very important things happened in the last six months: The most important of which, our province of Ontario came up to the plate with the 25-per-cent tax credit [for productions]. That is very instrumental in our decision-making process. Business picked up immediately after and has remained strong."

    The refurbishment of the factory will happen in stages. Office space will be available as soon as next month, but the overall renovation is expected to take two to three years.

    Etobicoke all set for film boom
    Cinespace to convert factory into new studio

    Peter Kuitenbrouwer, National Post
    Published: Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Is Norseman Heights the next Leslieville?

    Just maybe, now that Leslieville-based Cinespace Studios has bought the mammoth, 15-hectare Consumers Glass plant on Kipling Avenue, at the corner of Norseman Street just north of the Queen Elizabeth Way, to transform it into a film and television complex with up to 500,00 square feet of studio space.

    Yesterday, Steve Mirkopoulos, president of Cinespace, had spring in his step as he took me for a tour of the giant old glass plant.

    "The most desirable place to film is Leslieville," says Mr. Mirkopoulos, whose company developed and owns two film studios on Eastern Avenue. "We think Etobicoke is going to be the next best location."

    Consumers Glass opened in 1955. At the height of production, 1,200 employees manned huge blast furnaces, melting sand into glass panes and glass bottles for everyone from Crown Royal to Captain Morgan. Owens-Illinois later owned the plant, and shut it down last year, putting 400 people out of work.

    Tall cement elevators where the company stored sand stand here beside a curved roof which looks like a hat Frank Gehry designed for Lady Gaga; that was the exhaust manifold for the blast furnaces. Inside huge steel machinery fills the vastness. Beside lie piles of twisted pipes, railings, chains and big old rusted floor fans.

    This is nothing to faze the Mirkopoulos clan, who turned Canada Metal, at 721 Eastern Ave., into a thriving studio; their main studio at 30 Booth St. used to be a vast hospital laundry facility. "This is our most ambitious project," says Mr. Mirkopoulos. "We have a lot more land here than we ever had in the east end."

    A basement below the factory floor will allow Cinespace to outfit these studios with two tanks to film underwater scenes, he said, adding, "there is 30 times more power here than we had at 30 Booth."

    Cinespace has had a rocky history with the City of Toronto: First the city terminated the company's lease on Marine Terminal 28 on Queens Quay, where Chicago was filmed. Then the city gave an exclusive lease in the municipally owned port lands to a competitor, Toronto Film Studios, for Filmport. Given that bad blood, it is nice to see the Mirkopoulos family still wants to invest in Toronto.

    "We would rather buy our own land and be masters of our own destiny," says Mr. Mirkopoulos. "We are moving on."

    Etobicoke is not a new place for the film business: William F. White International, which supplies film equipment, has had its headquarters on Islington Avenue at Norseman for 47 years. Deluxe Labs, a post-production house, is just across the QEW on Evans Avenue, near Dufferin Gate, a studio on Butterick Road.

    "I think it makes a huge amount of sense," said Paul Bronfman, chief executive of William F. White, of Cinespace's move to Etobicoke yesterday, as he boarded a flight for Miami. "If the Mirkopoulos brothers say they're going to do something, they'll do it."

    Mr. Bronfman is chairman of Pinewood Studios, who co-own the new Filmport studio in Toronto's port lands, but he said he does not see the new Consumers Glass studios as competition. "I view it as enhancing the attractiveness of Toronto for film production."

    Filmmakers, like other artists, do have a reputation as shock troops of gentrification. Leslieville was a rundown area 20 years ago when the film studios arrived; today it is a destination, and houses in the ''Film District'' have doubled or tripled in value.

    This part of Etobicoke certainly feels a little low-rent, or at least light-industrial: even the strip clubs have closed on Kipling. For lunch I went to Bun Master Bakery, which is no Mercury Espresso Bar; every customer wore overalls. One patron has a part-time job installing granite countertops, and another works at the Hydro One transformer station across the road.

    Councillor Peter Milczyn (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) noted the area is already changing, with the city reworking Kipling subway station, just a kilo-metre north, and reconfiguring the Six Points traffic interchange to get rid of ramps.

    "People were worried when the plant closed last year," he said. "You never know whether some big-box retailer might come in. It's fabulous news that it's going to be a value-added employment use."

    All I am saying is, it may be time to buy a house in Norseman Heights, just east of the old factory. The espresso bars are coming.


  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Archivist View Post
    Don't see a thread for this. I am very pleased to see this building repurposed, I hope some of the handsome industrial features of the building are preserved.
    Hope so, too--though at worst, it could be an "oopsie" environmental-remediation/demolition situation akin to Tower Automotive's abortive film-studio conversion in the Perth/Sterling zone...

    Still, casually and uninformedly speaking, glass manufacture seems "cleaner" than the Tower Automotive legacy. (Of course, I could be wrong.)

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    This is the third attempt we're seeing in this decade to repurpose a large heritage structure into a major film studio to compete with the likes of Toronto Film Studios and now Pinewood.

    These are getting to be like aquarium announcements.

    The Great Lakes Film Studio that was supposed to be built in to the Hearn complex failed to materialize even after a groundbreaking ceremony. The Tower Automotive plan seemed viable, but became unneccessary when Pinewood acquired Filmport.

    I wonder if Cinespace will actually pull through with this project. I would imagine that it is difficult to redesign these old structures to suit the complex needs of a closed film set. Also, the film market in these parts seems shakier then it used to be. I wonder if a new studio could compete in this city?

  4. #4
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    Migtree raises good questions. The purchasers of the property are knowledgeable people, but the same could have been said about the Sterling Road proposal, which fizzled out.

    I certainly wish them the best, as proposals for a brownfield property of this size do not come along every day. But I won't get too excited, until I see measureable progress on the site.

  5. Default Cinespace's track record sets them apart

    I wouldn't compare Consumers Glass to Sterling Road, or the Hearn.

    Every property Cinespace has taken on in the last 20 years has become a successful studio - Toronto Iron Works on Eastern Ave, Marine Terminal 28 on Queen's Quay, Booth Centennial Laundry on Booth Avenue and Canada Metals on Eastern Avenue - and I've worked in all of them. Sadly, the David Miller machine closed down the first two, but the last two are thriving and very busy.

    Sterling Road, by Romano's Castlepoint Developments, was only posturing to make the other studio closures seem less damaging at the time, at the request of Romano's good buddy David Miller no doubt. It was never supposed to be a real project.

    The Hearn project was a kiss-off land deal to Mike Harris supporter Cortelucci right before Harris left office , only someone forgot to tell the movie guys this fact. They found out soonafter, when more emphasis was placed on scrap metal sales than film rentals.

    The Filmport project was never about the film industry - evident by the ridiculous lack of parking and support space. This was all about securing development rights to massive tracts of the Portlands. When the dust settles, taxpayers will see that Reisman ended up with development rights on all the land around the studios, while the City ended up owning a piece of a money-losing white elephant.

    Movie and television production budgets are plummeting, and Canadian television sales internationally are soaring. This new low-budget supply of studio space is the best news we've had in a long time in this city, thanks to Cinespace, a true city-builder and NOT a public land scammer like the others.

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    One-post wonder....but interesting viewpoint nonetheless.

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    Well I don't know if he's a one-post wonder. A bit soon for that, surely. I think this post raises good points, although I can't say how factually correct it is.

    Certainly the film industry has become a bit of a political football in this city. The Etobicoke project seems to be a businesslike, privately funded deal, rather than something being kicked around City Hall by people who know little about the business. To that extent, I think it has a better chance of actually happening for the long run benefit of the city.

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    "FilmWorker" made some great points...and its true that all the various "film stuido" developments have been government/private battlefields. It looks as if the Cinespace company is a local-Toronto business owned by the Mirkolpoulos family, and they would privately fund this project without any political interference. (Some government funding wouldn't hurt though). But I seriously doubt they will keep much of the existing Owens Illinois glass plant...its a derelict facility which will be torn down, possibly saving a few existing spaces which they could integrate into a new studio, thats about it. The Globe article mentions that "renovations may take 3-5 years", this is probably a timeline of construction of a new facility on site.

    I don't know the specifics, but I'd guess that property was purchased between the $15-$20 million dollar mark. Add another $1 million to demolish the old structure, and I'd assume they would build an entire new studio complex for a few $million more.
    Last edited by GPStar444; 2009-Dec-23 at 21:22.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by FilmWorker View Post
    Every property Cinespace has taken on in the last 20 years has become a successful studio - Toronto Iron Works on Eastern Ave, Marine Terminal 28 on Queen's Quay, Booth Centennial Laundry on Booth Avenue and Canada Metals on Eastern Avenue - and I've worked in all of them. Sadly, the David Miller machine closed down the first two, but the last two are thriving and very busy.
    Can't say I'm sad over the closure on Marine Terminal 28 and neither will I be when the cesspool Canada Metals site is finally put out to pasture. Blaming David Miller on the closure of Toronto Iron Works is pretty weak. Are you also going to blame him for winter?
    Last edited by interchange42; 2009-Dec-26 at 15:49. Reason: quote infixerated
    got some ice to sell you

  10. #10

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    I think this is great news. I used to work at a bank at Kipling and The Queensway (just down the road), and many former employees of the glass plant used to be customers of mine. While it was sad to see them put out of work, it wasn't all that surprising. The neighbourhood is definitely changing. I'm happy that a company such as Cinespace seems willing to redevelop this site and keep jobs in the area that pay more than $10/hr. Although this isn't the most glamorous part of town, it is a bustling area that gets very busy during business hours and I think it does have the potential to become a sort of industrial yet glamorous neighbourhood. With the redevelopment of the Kipling-Dundas-Bloor intersection, the soon to be 5 condo towers at said intersection, the proposal to redevelop the Islington Premier fitness site, the eventual redevelopment of the southeast corner of Kipling and the The Queensway, as well as the many towers that have recently come to the area between Bloor and Dundas between Kipling and Islington, this area is going to look quite different in the coming years.

    In a less local light, I'm happy that the city is continuing to allow the film industry to develop within the city's borders. The various new, and fairly new, film studios combined with giving the film festival an actual permanent home (even if it isn't in yorkville) all point to the continuing and hopefully soon to be again growing success of "Hollywood North". We can't just let Vancouver take it! lol
    I love scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GPStar444 View Post
    ... I don't know the specifics, but I'd guess that property was purchased between the $15-$20 million dollar mark. Add another $1 million to demolish the old structure, and I'd assume they would build an entire new studio complex for a few $million more.
    The sale price has been reported as $7,850,000, which is about $261,667 per acre if the site area is 30 acres. That's pretty low for industrial land in Toronto, but that would reflect the unusually large size of the site (larger site usually implies a lower price per acre), as well as the need to demolish or heavily renovate the existing structures, and environmental concerns.

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    Its always nice to see a story like this buried in the paper after all the doom and gloom about the loss of industrial jobs. What an amazing story, low paying manufacturing jobs being replaced by better-paying white collar jobs and the re-use of a nasty old industrial wasteland.

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    One needs to be cautiously optimistic, though. A movie studio was supposed to be built at 158 Sterling Road where Tower Automotive was in the Bloor and Lansdowne area. The plans fell through. Hearn Generating Station was supposed to be converted into a movie studio, but that never happened. I bet there have been more such instances in Toronto over the years.

    The area is quite decent for what it is. It's a postwar industrial park with ample room for trucks and rail connections. It's quite clean with a wide variety of both small businesses and medium sized industry, including the great Dimpflmeier bakery.

  14. #14

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    And, cinemawise, it's just down Norseman from William F. White...

  15. #15

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    ^ Although the building William White is in is slated to be replaced with a huge number of condo towers...

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