The town of Parker could become a national destination for film and television production, with more than 4,000 new full-time jobs up for grabs, if a project backed by Denver media company Redbarre becomes a reality, company officials said Friday.
At an event inside the Capitol building, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Parker Mayor Mike Waid and others joined Redbarre CEO Don Levy in touting the proposed Redbarre Digital Media & Technology Campus .
The privately-funded venture would occupy 1.9 million square feet of mixed-use space in the Compark Village subdivision, just north of E-470 and west of Chambers Road in Parker.
“Redbarre could also play a big role in helping the state grow into a more mature film business,” Hickenlooper said. “When you have more films made here you have a greater number of sound technicians, lighting designers (and) creative personnel at all levels, and your standard of production goes up in almost every form.”
Hickenlooper cited studies that place Colorado at or near the top of all U.S. states in arts creation and attendance, supporting more than 10,000 jobs and $2 billion in economic activity. The Redbarre facility could be a catalyst for accelerating the state’s economic growth, he said.
Architectural renderings of the facility show a multi-building campus that would house retail, office, hotel and exhibition spaces, in addition to high-tech film and TV production facilities — such as multiple recording studios and a 75,000-square-foot soundstage.
The project could break ground as early as 2018 and begin operating in 2020, although site plans have not been officially submitted to Parker officials.
“It’s anybody’s guess as to when we’d start to see a shovel in the ground,” said Matt Carlson, business recruitment manager for Parker. “It’s probably another six to eight months in the future before we can begin to evaluate the project and engage in a conversation with the applicants about economic incentives.”
Redbarre’s Levy said it was a “near-billion-dollar project” and that it would include more than $750 million of new infrastructure development over the next five years. A major financing group in the northeastern U.S. is putting together “a trilogy of three major international names” to fund the project, Redbarre COO Phillip Infelise told The Denver Post.
“(Think of) the Goldman Sachs of the world,” Infelise said. “In 10 days we’ll be signed, sealed and delivered and then we’ll do a public announcement.”
The jobs created by the Redbarre facility would include hospitality, production, retail and technology positions, Levy said. A billion-dollar Silicon Valley company is already looking to put 600 people on the campus, Levy added, laughing off a suggestion that the company was Google.
The idea for the campus was first floated to Colorado officials in 2014, Redbarre and state officials said.
However, Colorado filmmaker and entrepreneur Maurice Sparks alleged that he gave Redbarre his concept for a high-tech, multi-purpose media campus after he worked with Levy and others in late 2015, according to emails and other documents provided to The Denver Post.
“They stole my idea completely and made it their own,” Sparks said, citing a business plan under his N2GO International company that called for a 100,000 square-foot soundstage, retail, tourism and other facilities. “This took me nine years, and one of Don Levy’s comments to me was, ‘Never tell anybody it took nine years because I do my stuff in two months.’ Well, if you’re a thief you can do that.”
Levy and other Redbarre executives said they had not received a cease-and-desist letter sent by Fairfield and Woods, P.C., attorney John Tanner, whom Sparks retained last week.
“He was knocked sideways by (the announcement of) this project, which he learned about in The Denver Post,” Tanner said. “We’re still investigating and it’s my understanding that (Redbarre architectural partner) Oz also signed a non-circumvent agreement with N2GO, which is also why we sent them a cease-and-desist.”
A spokesman for Redbarre called the allegations “baseless.”
For his part, Colorado film commissioner Donald Zuckerman said his office — which is part of the governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade — would not have a direct hand in developing or maintaining any Redbarre facilities.
“Our role in this would be to try to convince the legislature that for something like this to work we need more and more projects to come to Colorado, and for that we need incentives,” he said.
However, movie and television production would only be part of the new 70-acre Redbarre facility, COO Infelise said. High-speed data would be the other large component.
“Today, you can make a film here but you can’t do anything with it,” he said. “All that post-production requires (a high) level of capacity.”
Parker has a robust telecom infrastructure that could be used not only for media production but also scientific, medical, retail and advertising applications, Levy said. The Redbarre campus would offer 10-gigabit high-speed data connections, an internet service provider and other amenities.
A location in Parker could also make the Redbarre campus a regional player, given its proximity to other Front Range metro areas.
“This area has a vast amount of capacity,” Levy said.