Albuquerque Studios has moved ahead with plans to build NewMexico's first major soundstage complex.

Pacifica Ventures, which will own and operate the new complex andalso operates Culver Studios in Los Angeles, reported that construction hasbegun on the $74m, 28-acre film and television production facility at Mesa DelSol.

Phase One, which is scheduled to be complete by spring 2007,comprises eight soundstages (four 24,000 sq ft and four 18,000 sq ft stages),office space, backlot space, mill storage and set-construction space, postproduction suites, production support services and retail space. The first twoof the 24,000-square-foot stages are set to open in January 2007, withadditional stages opening every three weeks thereafter.

Plans call for Phase Two to consist of an additional 28 acres tobe developed for production and post-production use, eventually creating aproduction campus covering more than 54 acres.

Pacifica chairman and chief executive officer Hal Katersky saidthe decision to go ahead was prompted by New Mexico's 25% production costrebate programme for film and TV.

"It's [that] to begin with, and the fact that Albuquerque isonly an hour and a half from Los Angeles, and an hour and a half is not verylong when you figure you can't go from one end of LA to another in an hour anda half at many times of the day," Katersky said.

"The third aspect is the warm reception we've received bothby the mayor and his office, and the governor and his office, and the fact thatthe state wants this kind of business and is aggressive about this kind ofbusiness, which makes it a good environment for everyone."

Among the theatrical projects to have shot in New Mexico recentlyare Transformers, No Country For Old Men, Little Miss Sunshine, NorthCountry, The Longest Yard,and The Missing.