The former home of Toronto Film Studios (TFS) on Eastern Avenue has returned to its movie-making roots.
Back in November 2012, TFS’ former president, Ken Ferguson and his wife, Linda, in partnership with the 19.5-acre site’s owner, SmartCentres Inc., quietly re-launched the once-shuttered facility as Revival 629.
“I think it’s a good time to open the doors. We’re happy to be reopening in the neighbourhood,” said Ken Ferguson, Revival 629’s managing director, during a recent interview.
Calling 629 Eastern Ave. “one of the most important sites in the city’s film history,” he said there’s been quite a buzz to see the former TFS site – the location for more than 200 feature films (notably The Incredible Hulk, Cinderella Man, Good Will Hunting and Jumper), 60 television shows and countless commercials – operating once again for film and TV productions.
“I’m glad to see it functioning again,” said Ferguson, adding there will likely be a grand opening event sometime in the spring of 2013 as the property is currently in the midst of being renovated to include a total of 16 sound stages as well as updated office and production space.
“It’ll remain roughly the same size but it’ll be much more modern. It’s going to be a very vibrant complex and we’re excited about that,” he said.
“There’s been lots of interest so far.”
To date, episodes of Warehouse 13 and Nikita as well as scenes for the remake of the film Robocop have already been shot at the local facility, which has four full-sized production offices, eight sound stages, three carpentry shops, numerous back-lot locations, and ample parking for crews and transportation units as well as long-term truck storage.
Meetings have also already been set up in Los Angeles for the New Year in an attempt to draw big-ticket productions to Revival 629, Ferguson said.
Ferguson said the goals for the site are long-term, including the development of corporate offices for media companies as well as start-up offices for animation, gaming, app development and interactive media.
Formerly home to Toronto Iron Works, TFS shut its doors in December 2008 when Ferguson, its former president, entered into an agreement with the City of Toronto to build an immense film and TV production facility just a few blocks away in the port lands called Filmport, which is now known as Pinewood Toronto Studios.
In recent years, the status of the former Toronto Film Studios site has been at the centre of much local controversy as SmartCentres Inc. made an unsuccessful bid at the Ontario Municipal Board to rezone the land and build an entertainment/shopping centre, reportedly anchored by a Wal-Mart.
There was also talk of constructing an auto dealership on the property, which has sat idle for some time and temporarily served as a detention centre for those arrested during the 2010 G-20 Summit.
Ferguson said he’s confident the future will be a bright one for the valuable downtown east site.
“(Revival 629) will become part of any long-term development. The goal is employment uses,” he said.
“I’ve always like this site. It has great potential.”