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Gray Television to Lease Studios to NBCU

Gray Television
A rendering of Gray Television's Assembly Atlanta project. (Image credit: Gray Television )

ATLANTA—Gray Television has announced that it has inked a long-term agreement with NBCUniversal Media for NBCU to lease and operate new state-of-the-art studio facilities at Gray’s Assembly Atlanta development. 

The studios in metropolitan Atlanta are scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2023. 

“Gray Television is thrilled to expand our already strong relationship with NBCU,” said Gray’s executive chairman and CEO Hilton H. Howell, Jr. “The new venture announced today places Gray’s own studio projects inside a large, first-class television and film production facility that will draw upon and will surely increase the large pool of skilled industry professionals who also make their homes here in the Atlanta metroplex.”

Assembly Atlanta is a 135-acre mixed-use real estate complex centered around the studio industry at the former site of the General Motors Assembly Plant, which is located in the City of Doraville, Georgia. The property borders the Interstate 285 Perimeter and is near the Atlanta neighborhood of Buckhead. 

In 2021, Gray assembled the real estate that today comprises Assembly Atlanta (opens in new tab). Last year, Gray retained Atlanta-based The Gipson Company as the developer and construction manager and JLL as the strategic advisor for Assembly Atlanta.

A central component of the Assembly Atlanta development is the 43-acre Assembly Studios complex featuring soundstages, production offices, warehouse and mill buildings, studio bungalows, event space, and a parking deck. 

NBCU’s lease with Gray will include a full suite of facilities needed to support television and film production. The new facilities will include multiple soundstages, production office space, warehouses and mill space, as well as parking and other necessary amenities. Adjacent to the Assembly Studios complex is Third Rail Studios, a movie and television production facility spanning seven acres that opened in 2016 and that Gray acquired in September 2021 (opens in new tab).

NBCU will manage all studio and production facilities on-site within the Assembly Studios complex, including Gray’s own studio facilities and Gray’s Third Rail Studios. This arrangement is expected to leverage NBCU’s extensive experience and expertise in managing studio lots, ensure consistency across all of the studio operations and leasing opportunities for third parties, and permit Gray to retain its focus on its own video production business.

Construction began on roadways and infrastructure throughout the Assembly Studios complex last summer, and construction began on studio buildings for Gray’s Swirl Films late last year. Construction on NBCU’s facilities is expected to begin this summer. At that time, Gray expects over 1,200 individuals will be employed in construction jobs on-site. 

The Assembly Studios complex is slated to be completed in the second half of 2023, which will allow Gray’s Swirl Films, NBCU and any third-party tenants to begin film and television productions in the new facilities before the end of next year. 

When fully operational, over 4,000 people will be expected to work within Assembly Studios and Third Rail Studios, and the productions filmed there will support thousands of additional new jobs in the community, Gray announced. 

Outside of the Assembly Studios complex, current plans for Assembly Atlanta include mixed use and commercial buildings around a town center concept when completed in the next five to seven years. 

The long-term development plans include a boutique hotel, townhouses and apartments, entertainment venues including e-gaming facilities, a conference center, and office buildings. 

The properties, including the landscaped streets, parks, and green space, will be designed to enable location shooting throughout Assembly Atlanta for productions filming within the soundstages of Assembly Studios. 

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.