Call it Hollywood on Harbor Island. Part of the former Fisher Flour Mill – now county-owned – has become a TV/movie-production facility, and King County Executive Dow Constantine showed it off today. From the county announcement:
The 117,000 square-foot sound stage is King County’s first major public investment to bring back a once-thriving film industry and hundreds of family wage, creative economy jobs as the region rebounds post-pandemic.
King County crews and contractors re-wired and built interior sound-proof walls in the former Fisher Flour Mill, purchased by King County 18 years ago to potentially ship solid waste. The work, which cost about $1.5 million, has already attracted a creative economy tenant.
A Hollywood episodic production is preparing to use the space as a sound stage, hiring hundreds of local crew members with family-wage jobs.
As part of his 2019 Creative Economy Initiative, Executive Constantine called for supporting the regional film industry by reducing film permit fees and timelines on King County property, and seeking new ways to promote regional productions. Executive Constantine convened his Film Advisory Board to work with industry veterans to craft the best strategies. The Advisory board quickly identified the need for a regional sound stage to compete with Portland, Vancouver, B.C., and other cities and states.
Attention turned to the former Fisher Flour Mill on Harbor Island.
Film production is classified light industrial for zoning, and a production facility is best suited to be in a commercial or industrial area. Harbor Island’s location is ideal – close to the urban center, but relatively isolated.
The condition of the Fisher Flour Mill warehouse, the height of the ceilings, and the integrity of the structure all make it perfect for long-term film production use. The production currently using the sound stage wishes to remain anonymous. The film industry typically seeks to downplay its presence in a community for a variety of reasons, including security and marketing.
The goal of King County Harbor Island Studios is to create the infrastructure needed to land a wide variety of projects – from feature films to commercials – which pay union wages to carpenters, electricians, prop masters, costume designers, and other trades.
The announcement also notes that the “last major episodic television production in Washington was ‘Northern Exposure.’ (which) set up shop in a warehouse in Redmond and produced six seasons starting in 1990.” King County bought the ex-mill site in 2003.