1888 Studios in Bayonne awarded $400M Aspire tax credit

Facility, which aims to open in 2026, will be largest (58 acres) and 1st campus-style film & television studio in Northeast

Architectural rendering of proposed retaining wall at Studio Entrance.

In another milestone moment for the growing film and television industry in the state, the board of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority on Wednesday approved a potential $400 million Aspire tax credit award to Bayonne-based 1888 Studios — the largest Aspire credit allowed to be awarded.

The studio, developed by Togus Urban Renewal, is aiming to open in 2026. When it does, 1888 Studios will be the largest and first campus-style film and television studio facility in the Northeast, occupying 58 acres of land in the southwest corner of Bayonne, at the former location of the Texaco oil refinery.

Designed by Gensler to evoke imagery of Golden Age Hollywood, the development will include 23 megapowered smart sound stages ranging from 18,000 to 60,000 square feet with 40- to 50-foot-height ceilings, more than 350,000 square feet of production support space, outdoor backlot space, amenities, office spaces, mills, lighting and grip facilities, parking garage and storage.

In addition to the studio space, the development will also include over five acres of public space, featuring a waterfront walkway adjacent to the Newark Bay and a public park.

Because 1888 Studios is considered a transformative project under the Aspire Program, the project was approved for an award of up to 50% of the total project cost, not to exceed $400 million (which is the maximum Aspire award).

Gov. Phil Murphy, who has made building up the film and TV industry a big part of his administration, obviously was thrilled.

“With support from the NJEDA’s Aspire program, the development of transformative projects across the Garden State is revitalizing communities and creating thousands of good-paying jobs,” he said. “The development of 1888 Studios in Bayonne furthers my administration’s goal of establishing the state as a leader in movie and television production, helping small businesses and municipalities reap the benefits of local production.”

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan agreed.

“1888 Studios exemplifies the type of projects that are being attracted to New Jersey by Gov. Murphy’s support for film and digital media production,” he said. “The incomparable resources and logistical and artistic assets New Jersey offers are contributing to the industry’s momentum in the state, creating thousands of jobs and enhancing the revitalization of communities and small businesses.

“Today’s approval under the Aspire Program ensures the continued development of this transformative project, which will provide countless opportunities for the city of Bayonne and further New Jersey’s standing as a national leader in film production.”

Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis said it’s a big day for the role the town, just minutes from New York City, can play in the industry.

“The Aspire Program’s support for 1888 Studios not only underscores the transformative potential film will bring to Bayonne, but also what Bayonne will bring to the studio and film industry,” he said. “NJEDA’s belief in the project and our city is a testament to Bayonne’s growing prominence as a hub for innovation, creativity and skilled labor.”

In May, 1888 Studios was designated by the EDA as a Film-Lease Partner Facility.

The designation agreement, which commits the developer to occupying the facility for at least five years, grants future tenants eligibility to apply for increased tax credits for projects filmed at the facility under the state’s Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program.

Arpad “Arki” Busson, chairman of Togus Urban Renewal, thanked everyone for the support.

“Today’s announcement is the affirmation of 1888 Studios’ ability to hasten and secure the transformation of New Jersey’s film industry from a regional leader to a global powerhouse,” he said.

“Gov. Murphy and the state Legislature equipped the NJEDA, under the leadership of Tim Sullivan, with the Aspire economic development tool to identify and evaluate capital projects of strategic significance to New Jersey’s economic future.

“We are grateful that the culmination of the agency’s extensive analysis of the 1888 Studios project is approval to earn Aspire credits over time as we build with New Jersey’s excellent construction crews and suppliers a facility that will serve as a powerful force of attraction for the film industry’s direct investment, technological innovation and job creation for thousands of New Jerseyans.”