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.