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Mayor signs off on Netflix deal

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Mayor Tim Keller, center, is joined by city officials in signing the deal bringing Netflix’s first U.S. production hub to Albuquerque. At left is Alicia Keyes, head of the city’s film office. (ADOLPHE-PIERRE LOUIS/JOURNAL)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The deal to bring Netflix’s first U.S. production hub to Albuquerque is sealed — at least on the city’s end.

Mayor Tim Keller today signed the bill, unanimously approved by councilors earlier this month, that includes a $4.5 million city economic incentive package for the California-based streaming-video giant to assist in its purchase of Albuquerque Studios.

“All that our Legislature, governors, mayors and councilors have done over the years set the stage for this,” Keller said during the  bill signing ceremony at City Hall. “Now, we elevate that stage to the next level.”

The bill also includes language related to the city’s role as fiscal agent for the state’s $10 million contribution in Local Economic Development Act funds.

As part of the agreement, Netflix commits to direct spending on its own productions in New Mexico of at least $600 million in the first five years operating the studio, as well as $400 million in direct and indirect spending, which includes leasing the facility to other production companies, in the following five years.

The deal is expected to bring the equivalent of about 1,000 film and television production jobs per year.

Netflix is in negotiations to purchase the 28-acre Albuquerque Studios site with plans to make it its principal production hub in the United States. The company uses three production facilities in North America other than Albuquerque — Atlanta, Los Angeles and Vancouver, Canada — all of which are leased facilities.

Netflix intends to invest more than $30 million for acquisition, renovation and improvement at Albuquerque Studios, which it is to maintain and operate for at least 10 years.

The final hurdle is closure on the sale of the studio and its nine sound stages, production offices and back lot.

Alicia Keyes, head of the city’s film office, told the Journal  closure on the sale is  not complete but is imminent. Netflix officials have not released details about the sale price of the studio.

Clawbacks include monetary penalties if Netflix’s spending by Dec. 31, 2023, is less than 90 percent of the $600 million performance target or spending is not at least an additional $400 million by Dec. 31, 2028. They also include monetary penalties if Netflix ceases operations at the studio before Dec. 31, 2028.

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