$100 million South Shore film studio a step toward making Chicago ‘Hollywood of the Midwest,’ officials say

The 222,000-square-foot Regal Mile Studios is projected to open next year on a 7-acre parcel at South Chicago Avenue, Stony Island and 77th Street. The studio will have five soundstages, a gym, cafeteria and recreation space.

SHARE $100 million South Shore film studio a step toward making Chicago ‘Hollywood of the Midwest,’ officials say
Politicians, investors and members of the entertainment industry, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot (fourth from left) and TV producer Derek Dudley (fifth from right), shovel dirt Monday during the groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of Regal Mile Studios, 7824 S. South Chicago Ave.

Politicians, investors and members of the entertainment industry, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot (fourth from left) and TV producer Derek Dudley (fifth from right), shovel dirt Monday during the groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of Regal Mile Studios, 7824 S. South Chicago Ave.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot broke ground Monday on a $100 million South Shore film studio that aims to make Chicago the “Hollywood of the Midwest” and bring hundreds of jobs to neighborhood residents.

The 222,000-square-foot Regal Mile Studios is projected to open next year on a 7-acre parcel at the intersection of South Chicago Avenue, Stony Island and 77th Street. The studio will have five soundstages, a gym, cafeteria and recreation space.

Lightfoot said the privately funded “state-of-the-art campus” will bolster Chicago’s place in the film industry, expanding the city’s tally of 15 long-running shows already filmed here. She spoke to a crowd that included state Sen. Elgie R. Sims Jr., city Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin and others.

“The reason you see so many South Side elected officials here is because they all know that this investment is going to endure to benefit the entire South Side, and dare I say the entire city,” Lightfoot said. “This is a big moment of pride.”

A rendering of Regal Mile Studios from South Chicago Avenue.

A rendering of Regal Mile Studios from South Chicago Avenue.

Provided

The studio will be built on land that has sat vacant for over two decades.

“For 24 years, we’ve been trying to develop this space — and now we’re finally here,” said outgoing Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th).

The Regal Mile Studios venture has been led by Derek Dudley, producer of Showtime’s “The Chi,” and Jim Reynolds of Loop Capital Real Estate Partners.

Both men grew up on the South Side. They say the project has a special meaning for them.

“This one is near and dear because we’re going to take these young people, we’re going to revitalize this community and bring economic activity and jobs and hope back,” said Reynolds, who grew up in Englewood.

Dudley, who grew up in South Shore, said: “This is for the people of the community. ... May it stand as a beacon of life, a symbol of hope of what is possible and an inspiration to all of us.”

Television producer Derek Dudley speaks Monday during a groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of Regal Mile Studios located in a lot at 7824 S. South Chicago Ave.

Derek Dudley, who grew up in South Shore and produces the Showtime cable series “The Chi,” speaks Monday during the groundbreaking ceremony for Regal Mile Studios on the South Side.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Officials said the film studio will bring jobs to neighborhood residents — not to people out of town.

Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) said her office is “engaged in very positive discussions” with CPS to create a training program that will offer high-paying union jobs to students that won’t require a college degree.

The project began in 2018 when Loop Capital began searching for a film site, Susan Cronin of Loop Capital said in a statement.

The project coalesced in November 2021 when the city agreed to sell six parcels of vacant, city-owned land in South Shore for $31,000.

Despite the project borrowing its name from the nearby historic and ailing Avalon Regal Theater, they are not related.

Lightfoot has tried to bolster Chicago’s share of the nation’s film and television productions. Chicago is already home to Cinespace Studios — which produces NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.” and “Chicago Med.”

Lightfoot said the studio will complement her signature Invest South/West program, which uses public money to spur economic activity in the city’s economically depressed neighborhoods. The city says it has allocated more than $2 billion in private and public money through the program for real estate developments on the South and West sides.

Film production revenue hit a record high of $700 million last year, Lightfoot said. This year is expected to top that number, she said.

A rendering of Regal Mile Studios from South Chicago Avenue.

A rendering of Regal Mile Studios from South Chicago Avenue.

Provided

A rendering of Regal Mile Studios from South Chicago Avenue.

A rendering of Regal Mile Studios from South Chicago Avenue.

Provided

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