Toronto's on-again, off-again bid to build astate-of-the-art purpose-built studio on its disused port area is back on track.

Three months after the last Portlands deal fell apart,the city's corporate proxy, Toronto Economic Development Corp. (TEDCO), hasannounced a new Request for Expressions of Interest (RFI) toward theconstruction of a facility up to 385,000 sq. ft. on 30 acres of land in thecity's south-eastern quadrant.

Additionally, TEDCO confirmed that the competing developmentof Great Lake Studios, a mothballed power generating station, has agreed not tocompete with a new studio soundstage but will act instead as an effects stage(effects stages, unlike soundstages, do not require high-end sound-proofing andother capital-intensive infrastructure).

TEDCO president and CEO Jeffrey Steiner said the agreementmeans that the city can concentrate its resources on one premium facility.

Paul Bronfman, president of The Comweb Group, one of the partnersin The Great Lakes project, told Screen International that the city cannot sustain two similar large-scalestudios. He added that his company, which includes interests in Montreal'sCine Cite and William F. White, a major production equipment supplier, willsubmit a proposal for the Portlands RFI.

The previous Portlands project, which called for a 1.2million sq. ft. complex, collapsed earlier this year when San Diego-baseddeveloper Sequences Group withdrew from the project's consortium. Under theprevious proposal Pinewood-Shepperton Studios would have operated thesoundstages.

The UK-based company, partly controlled by filmmaking brothersRidley and Tony Scott, has expressed an interest in partnering with the nextround of developers.

For its part, Great Lakes Studios is at least 12-18 monthsaway from opening its doors, the timing dictated by the pace of removal of thegargantuan generating machinery in the building.

The formal Portlands RFI periodwill extend to close of business September 23, 2003. CIBC World Markets andJ.J. Barnicke respectively are the key banking and real estate advisors on thedevelopment.