While most downtown areas are typically considered “entertainment” districts, none in Atlanta really compare to what Tyler Perry is cooking up on and around the 330 acres he bought near Fort McPherson in 2015. He’s putting the “entertainment” in entertainment district.
Perry developed a major movie and television studio with 10 sound stages all intertwined in old buildings that were once part of the historic fort. It also included new buildings, like a replica of the White House for his television series, “The Oval,” according to a recent article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Now he wants to buy another 20 acres and build a theater on the same scale as the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center and surround it with restaurants and an alley of “about 10 small theater houses and dinner theaters.”
Fort McPherson was a U.S. Army based south of Atlanta on the edge of East Point. Its history goes back to 1867 when it hosted U.S. infantry regiments whose mission was to enforce Union regulations during Reconstruction. It was used as a camp to house Imperial German Navy prisoners of war during World War I and as a training site for the Active Army and Georgia National Guard. It held picketers who were detained during the General Textile Workers Strike in 1934. And it served in many different capacities up until its closing in 2011.
Since Perry purchased his 330 acres, major motion pictures, including “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” all of the “Madea” films, “Precious” and major television series have been filmed there.
In addition to the restaurants and theaters, Perry envisions a museum of his work along with African-American history on the site. And he would also conduct public tours of Tyler Perry Studios.
“I want them to start doing tours,” Perry told the Atlanta Business Chronicle. “I want them to have a place where they can walk safely or get on a streetcar or tram. I need a base for that to happen. This would be open to the public.”
The site is near the Lakewood-Fort McPherson MARTA station. Major developments are occurring around the Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Chamblee stations and others.
Perry would also like to see a residential component and incorporate a linear park with bike paths.
The property is currently owned by the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority (MILRA). They recently sold another 11 acres to Washington, D.C-based Easterly Government Properties Inc., who used it as a lab for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MILRA did this despite Perry making an effort to buy that property too.
This project just goes to show how interesting Atlanta has become. Unique town centers are being built throughout the metro area, and having one centered around a major studio would be another jewel in our crown. As more people and businesses keep moving to the area, and as our economy keeps diversifying, we will have more diverse options when it comes to finding a home or finding something to do on the weekends.
Perry has pumped a lot of economic activity in an area that 15 years ago was pretty stagnant. He brought in film stars from across the country and helped to rocket the film industry in Atlanta off the ground. Georgia is now one of the most filmed-in places on the planet for major motion pictures and television series.