Developers aim to start construction in the fall on a $100 million film/TV studio and campus in a disinvested neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. The Regal Mile Studios Campus 1 will be a 380,000-sq-ft, seven-acre enclosed media campus and sound stage development.

The project will be built on vacant properties at 1431-1526 E. 77th Street and on the 7700 blocks of South Blackstone, South Chicago, Harper and Stony Island avenues. It will include 220,000 sq ft of film studio space and feature a gym, cafeteria, and recreation space.

Loop Capital Real Estate Partners, an affiliate of Chicago-based Loop Capital, is sponsoring the privately funded project. Chicago-based Dakota Development is the contractor for the project, which is expected to create 250 construction jobs. The architect is BauerLatoza Studio, also in Chicago. 

“There are a lot of bells and whistles here including a gym, recreation space and hospitality,” said Dakota Development Principal Joe Faust in a news release. “We are also excited about expanding development beyond the campus walls to create a dynamic destination and bring back the energy of The Regal Theater."

Edward Torrez, principal of BauerLatoza Studio, said the studios will require specialized elements. 

"Because of the open spans required for the studios, we are looking at concrete products and components that may be pre-stressed to achieve clear spans," he said. "Also soundproofing and other acoustic control assemblies may be incorporated in the design. The entrance opening will need to be large, but not at the level of aviation doors—still [the doors] will need to be carefully considered for optional performance." 

He said green walls and other sustainable elements also will be part of the design.

"[Our client] would like to see green and sustainable design in the building," Torrez said. "Any new development is an opportunity to do things right for 2023 and beyond in terms of sustainability."

The architect also wants to create a building that fits in with the surrounding area.

"We don't want to make concrete boxes that don't fit with the context of the neighborhood," Torrez said.

The studios' name pays homage to the Avalon Regal Theater, which opened in 1928, and was an entertainment destination for decades. The theater is currently shuttered and not part of the development plan.

Avalon Regal Theater

The name of the Regal Mile Studios pays homage to the Avalon Regal Theater, which was constructed in 1928.
Photo courtesy of Circa Images/Newscom

The Chicago City Council gave zoning approval for the film/TV campus in July 2021.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a Feb. 6 news conference that TV and film production is on the rise in Chicago. Although numbers are not yet final, she said TV and film production generated $700 million in revenue in 2022. Currently, there are 15 current or upcoming TV series being filmed in Chicago.

Susan Cronin with Loop Capital Real Estate Partners said the project has been in planning for about five years.

“We have been in predevelopment since 2018—a long time, because we have been working through site selection and various iterations until we got it just right,” she said in a news release.  “This site has sat vacant for decades, paving the way for responsible urban infill development, and it has great expansion potential.”

Developers plan to have the studios open for occupancy in fall 2024.