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Doraville Development Authority Approves Integral's Sale Of Assembly

Gray Television has received permission to acquire a huge development site in Doraville, where it plans to build a massive film, television and digital media production campus.

Third Rail Studios, located in the Assembly mixed-use project in Doraville.

Gray TV's development partner, The Gipson Co.'s Jay Gipson, revealed more of the media giant's plans Monday evening during a Doraville Downtown Development Authority meeting. 

Gray TV is buying 125 acres of Assembly, a mixed-use project on the site of the former General Motors plant in Doraville overlooking Interstate 285, Bisnow previously reported. The emergency DDA meeting was announced Sunday. 

Atlanta-based Integral Group, led by Chairman and CEO Egbert Perry, acts as Assembly's master developer since the firm purchased the 165-acre former General Motors plant for $50M in 2014. Perry has long planned to develop a $2B mixed-use project on the site.

Gipson and Gray plan to develop 500K SF of studio space across 10 buildings, three of which would be dedicated to Gray TV's production efforts. Aside from studio space, Gray plans to develop an esports facility, apartments, townhouses, retail and offices, Gipson said, assuring DDA members that the developer will move quickly to begin construction on the project once the sale closes, which could happen as soon as this summer.

The total development could be completed in five years, Gipson told the DDA, which unanimously approved the ownership transfer to Gray TV affiliate LLC Peal Railroad Assembly Yard. The pending purchase price remained undisclosed as of Monday.

“[Gray TV is] buying this thing, and we are going to develop a fully mixed-use product,” Gipson said. “That is all the driving force for doing this, is to build a state-of-the-art studio development that has e-gaming, and the city that grows around it. We're not going to let the grass grow under our feet.”

A source familiar with the transaction said Gray has yet to go under contract with Integral Group. During the DDA meeting, Gipson said the deal has a March 31 deadline. 

“This is a very complicated deal and there are a lot of moving parts,” Gipson told Bisnow after the Zoom meeting.

“As you can imagine, there's an urgency with this company to get in here and formalize the plans for the site. I think they're a good partner,” Doraville City Councilman Andy Yeoman said during the meeting. “I think this is, if not the best, one of the best outcomes for the future of this site.”

If the sale occurs, it will largely end Black-owned development firm Integral's involvement in Assembly. Sources told Bisnow Integral will continue to have an ownership interest in Third Rail Studios and plans to develop a senior housing project on the site. Since its acquisition, Integral developed the film and production facility Third Rail Studios. Integral also sold off portions of Assembly to other developers to develop Serta Simmons Bedding Co's. corporate offices and Asbury Automotive's dealership.

Earlier this month, the Doraville City Council gave the green light to AHS Residential to develop a $150M, 840-unit multifamily project at Assembly. Integral developed much of the infrastructure at the site, including the public roads, sewers and green spaces.

Yeoman said he believed Integral didn't get enough credit for the work it did on the project.

“Sometimes I think Integral gets a bad rap from the community,” Yeoman said during the DDA meeting. “They really have done a lot of work that really isn't visible to people driving down [Interstate] 285 today.”

Gray TV, which is headquartered next to Oglethorpe University off Peachtree Road in Brookhaven, a little more than 4 miles south of Assembly, recently posted an annual net income of $358M on revenues of more than $2.3B. The media company is in growth mode, having acquired smaller television network operators to amass television stations available to more than 25% of U.S. TV households with such affiliates as ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

Earlier this month, Gray invested $28.5M in Envy Gaming, a group that competes in such online games as Call of Duty, Valorant and Rocket League. Musician Post Malone and energy mogul Ken Hersh also own minority stakes in Envy.

Last year, Gray expanded its investment in Atlanta-based indie film production company Swirl Films, which produces shows and made-for-TV movies for such cable networks as Lifetime, Hallmark Channel, TV One, Netflix and BET.

CORRECTION, MARCH 30, 9:35 P.M. ET: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported Integral Group would have no interest at Assembly following the sale. It will keep an ownership interest in Third Rail Studios and a site for future senior housing. The story has been updated.