The first phase of a major expansion nears completion at Chicago Studio City, as three new state-of-the-art stages are added to campus. Phase two will include an additional 66,000 square feet of new stage space next year.
When complete, the expansion will add a total of 185,000 square feet of new production space to the campus.
The original production space has four stages. Floors 1, 2 & 3 are currently occupied by the new FX limited series, Primitive Town Justifiedand last summer they were filled with the Apple TV+ series, The shiny girls.
The new stages are in a building at the west end of campus with a second-floor walkway connecting it to the main building.
“All stages are state of the art,” the owner said, John Crededio, Jr. “They all have three-phase electrical boxes, heating and air conditioning, Insul-Quilt soundproofing, a new insulated roof, bathrooms, dining rooms and production offices with kitchenettes.”
He pointed to the space just beyond the rear of the 19,000 square foot Stage 5, “That exterior wall comes out and there will be a new entrance with a nice office area, a new passenger elevator and there’s much more office space on the second floor.”
“Each stage is designed to keep production offices close,” John said. “There are hallways that go around every stage, so you never have to worry about walking through a hot set.”
He explained his intention to make each production feel like it has a space to itself without needing a long walk from the stage to the production offices which are often located in a space shared by others.
There are loading docks and a new freight elevator serving all stages. The top floor has high ceilings with skylights only found in older Chicago manufacturing buildings, filling the room with natural light. “This area will be additional office space, accessory storage and deck storage,” John said.
Here are some first photos of the space under construction:
Once completed, the entire complex provides a well-thought-out production space, by experienced filmmakers.
That’s really what makes Chicago Studio City unique. The vast experience and pride of family ownership with over 50 years in the Chicago film industry – the Crededio family spans four generations of Chicago filmmakers.
The studio is owned by John, Jr and his brother Joe Crededio. “Most of my family is involved in the film industry,” John said. “Years ago, my grandfather (Daniel Crededio,) was a stage electrician, and among the first twenty members of Local 476. My father (John Crededio, Sr.) started out as a blunder. My mother (Dolores) was makeup and hair years ago. My father’s three brothers also worked in the union Gino, Ronny and Danny, and his two sisters.
Thing is, it would be hard to work on a Chicago set without bumping into a relative, Crededio, Dambra, Doherty, Fatigato, and Volpe. They are all linked.
John Crededio, Sr.sadly passed away in 2018, got his start on a film set as a gaffer in the 70s and bought his first commercial facility at Grand and Western in 1979. He later became a partner in buying Fred A. Niles Studios. in 1982, which was later sold to Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Group.
“We moved past it pretty quickly and bought the property at 5660 W. Taylor Street,” John said.
He was referring to their current location, the sprawling property that was the former Hotpoint Appliance facility, on the west side near Central & Roosevelt Rd. There was plenty of office space and several factory buildings with high ceilings, just waiting to be transformed into sound stages. It was there, in 1986, that John, Sr. fulfilled his dream of owning a first-class movie studio.
By developing this facility, John Crededio, Sr. started a wave of film and television production in Chicago that continued for a dozen years, until it all came to an abrupt halt on 9/11/01.
The studio that has hosted more than 5,000 productions over the past 36 years has had its share of obstacles in its path.
“Between 9/11, my dad’s cancer, and then Covid, there were tough times here. My dad sold part of the property,” John said. He pointed to a spectacular modern building on the other side of the fence. “It was a state-of-the-art stage facility that we built. It’s now the home of some luxury sports cars. He shrugged. “It’s okay. We are buying some of these surrounding buildings. This is just the beginning.”
As we passed rows of new crew vans and parked Honey Wagons, I commented that they were the most beautiful Honey Wagons I had ever seen. John said, “These are all new, and I have six more to come.” He highlighted the parking lot that connects the new space to the existing campus. “We’re going to pave it all over next week,” he said.
“We were preparing to start the expansion two years ago,” he said, “and then Covid hit. Now is the time.
He couldn’t be more right about that. These are exciting times for the Chicago film community. With the new tax incentives in place, we can expect to see more feature film productions soon, to add to the many successful television series that call Chicago home.
Stage 5 should be ready by July 1st. Stages 6 and 7 should be ready by mid-August. Chicago Studio City has future plans for expansion, in order to continue to meet the needs of our ever-growing film market.
Chicago Studio City
5660 W. Taylor Street
The lobby entrance for the new stages is:
905 S. Menard Avenue
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With decades of experience in film and television production, Barbara Roche is the Writer/Editor of Reel Chicago and Reel 360.