Studio Bust May Mean State Takeover for City
It was lights, cameras, farewell.
California film executive Jimmy Lifton persuaded Allen Park, Michigan, to become a Midwest moviemaking hub, then left the Detroit suburb $31 million deeper in debt and, according to a state report this month, so financially stressed that it needs an emergency manager.
Three years ago, hundreds attended Lifton’s announcement of a $146 million studio where an automotive supplier once operated. Then-Mayor Gary Burtka declared “Hollywood 48101’’ — a reference to Allen Park’s zip code — and Lifton talked of cranking out movies like Henry Ford mass-produced cars, with 3,000 new jobs. The city sold $31 million in taxable GO bonds to buy and improve 104 acres for Lifton’s Unity Studios. By mid-2010, the deal had dissolved in a dispute over rent. The bonds carried coupons ranging from 6.625 percent to 7.25 percent, and have traded for just below 70 cents on the dollar.