Harry Handelsman, the developer behind celebrity hotspot Chiltern Firehouse, the St Pancras Renaissance hotel and Ealing Studios, is bidding to build a Hollywood-scale film studio in east London.
Handelsman, whose Manhattan Loft Corporation is constructing a 42-story hotel and sky garden in east London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, is one of a handful of credible bidders vying to build the first new television and film studio in the capital in 25 years.
According to the Guardian, Handelsman’s involvement is thought to be part of a bid by Ealing Studios, Britain’s oldest studio, which his business bought alongside two other investors in the mid-2000s.
The eight-hectare (20-acre) site in Barking and Dagenham has been described by the London Mayor Sadiq Khan as an ideal location and “rare chance” to build a world-class studio facility in London.
The frontrunner is said to be Pinewood, the film studio behind Star Wars and James Bond, which is doubling the size of its site in Shepperton, Surrey, to meet the explosion in demand of high-end TV and big-budget film making in the UK.
However, Handelsman has been hugely successful and influential in the property development scene.
The Munich-born, ex-New Yorker’s biggest achievement is the redevelopment of the old St Pancras Grand Midland Hotel. Now the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, it is a flagship for the area’s regeneration.
His latest project, Manhattan Loft Gardens, is a 135 metre, 42-floor tower which will house 248 flats, a hotel, restaurant, huge lobby and two cantilevered open-air gardens midway up.
The new Dagenham studio will be the largest in Greater London and the first to be built since Three Mills, which is located between Bromley-by-Bow and West Ham in east London.
Three Mills is run by the London Legacy Development Corporation, which was set up to develop parts of east London after the 2012 Olympics and is also thought to be involved in a bid.
Darren Rodwell, the leader of Barking and Dagenham council, previously told the Guardian that there were initially more than 20 expressions of interest in developing the site.
The borough’s film office has been involved in attracting a number of big-budget movies such as Doctor Strange and Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, as well as TV dramas including Channel 4’s Humans, ITV’s Liar and Netflix’s Black Mirror.
According to estimates, the Dagenham East studio could generate around 780 full-time jobs in the local area and £35 million each year for the UK economy.
The UK’s top-quality studio facilities and production talent, along with lucrative government tax breaks, have fuelled a boom in film making.
Four of the top five earners at the British box office last year – Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast, Dunkirk and Paddington 2 – were based in the UK.
DealMakerz thinks that if anyone can make a success of east London’s new studio facility it is Handelsman. His track record is undeniable and, importantly, heritage plays a big role in his projects, which should keep the locals happy.