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Howard Hughes' $1.8B Mark Wahlberg-Backed Vegas Studio Project Clears Local Approval

The Las Vegas strip

A $1.8B movie studio and mixed-use project backed by some of the biggest names in show business received approval from the Clark County Zoning Commission Wednesday. The vote moves the project, planned for the Summerlin area on the west side of Las Vegas, one step closer to reality.

Summerlin Production Studios is a collaboration between Howard Hughes Holdings, Sony Pictures Entertainment and actor Mark Wahlberg. An estimated 10,000 jobs could be created, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Howard Hughes is the developer of the Summerlin master-planned community, which stretches between the Las Vegas commercial district and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. 

Plans include 10 buildings, with a 500K SF studio and production facility supported by 100K SF of retail, restaurant and office space, according to the Review-Journal. Developers are also planning an emergency room facility and a satellite office for the Clark County government. An existing fire station is on the site.

The zoning commission approved several variances to allow the project to go forward, the Review-Journal reported, and the next step is taking the plans to the Nevada legislature and Gov. Joe Lombardo. Wahlberg is acting as a consultant for the project with hopes of expanding the state’s film tax credit program.

Originally from Las Vegas, Wahlberg has been outspoken about bringing more film productions to the city in an attempt to establish it as “Hollywood 2.0.”

Las Vegas’ economy has started diversifying from the gambling and shows that put it on the map. The relocation of professional sports teams like the NFL's Raiders and the  NHL’s addition of the Golden Knights in Las Vegas are the highest-profile examples. 

Before the pandemic, sports were the seventh-most common reason to come to Las Vegas, Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst at Applied Analysis, told Las Vegas Weekly last year. Now, sports rank No. 2.

Las Vegas-area economic development organizations are targeting executives from more run-of-the-mill industries as well, including advanced manufacturing, technology and finance, the Review-Journal reported earlier this month.

It is a complicated time for studio real estate and the film and television industry at large. Streaming services caused fragmentation in the years before the pandemic, leading to a boom in development, particularly in Los Angeles, that collided with pandemic-era filming restrictions.

While Los Angeles is seen as having the institutional infrastructure and employment base to sustain studio operations through ebbs and flows, more emerging markets like Atlanta have run into challenges, especially during the writers and actors strikes in 2023.