ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) — A new project could help Atlantic City become Hollywood East.
The Playground Pier is one of the most well-known properties in Atlantic City. But the property that’s connected to Caesar’s Hotel and Casino sits mostly unused.
It has picture-perfect views of the ocean and the beach in Atlantic City.
But most of the restaurants and businesses inside The Playground Pier have been sitting empty for years.
“There’s nothing here anymore, no stores you can’t shop, there’s really nowhere to sit and eat and enjoy yourself,” Lavern Allen said.
But now, a group of local guys is transforming part of the pier into a live entertainment and state-of-the-art production studio called AXC1 Studios.
“Our hope and main target is to be the east coast hub of Hollywood,” Chris Aponte said.
ACX1 Studios plans to use the 550,000-square-foot building as multiple movie sets, which they hope will attract major film companies and actors to the Jersey Shore.
CBS News Philadelphia has been told the building is practically turn-key – meaning it doesn’t need much updating.
The restaurant signs will come down, but the bar, chairs, and tables will stay and this will be used to shoot a restaurant scene in a movie.
“You can film here, you can edit here and your crew can sleep at the hotel without having to go to all these places,” Dom Frank, of ACX1 Studios, said.
In 2019, Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation that gives film and digital companies tax credits to shoot in New Jersey. That drew ACX1 to this property.
Although the actors and writers strike is ongoing, SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia says having new opportunities nearby will only help local entertainers.
“The idea of having a studio right in Atlantic City and have filmmaking in South Jersey expand is wonderful. It’s the new generation of having a hub right here,” Nicole Izanec said.
The owners are also working with tenants for other floors on the pier to open new restaurants and re-open a wedding venue that sits over the ocean.
“It will be a real hybrid space set up for creators, shoppers, and entertainers all alike,” Aponte said.
ACX1 Studios is shooting for a grand opening next summer.